Saturday, May 14, 2016

Exiting Life, Entering Hell

Live by the savagery of deadly violence, and it is only justice that you die the very same way. But only after you've been responsible in large part for the deaths of countless targets in a concentrated drive to have to your credit, adding to the prestige of representing a terrorist group at the very highest level of control in mass destruction. The death toll that Mustafa Amine Badreddine exacted on those he and his Hezbollah comrades considered to be their enemies no doubt gave them great satisfaction as heroes delivering death to those who might have mightily preferred to live, given the option.

An undated handout photo released on May 13, 2016 by Hezbollah's media office shows Mustafa Badreddine smiling
AFP/Hezbollah media office
Mustafa Amine Badreddine has been involved in Hezbollah military operations for years
The manner in which this man himself met death is unfortunate in the sense that it was in all likelihood so swift that, as the saying goes "he never knew what hit him", as the victim of a bombing. With death being instant there would have been no opportunity for him to suffer any qualms of fear or doubt; a swift and merciful passage from life to death. But then, there is this about Hezbollah; it boasts that unlike those of the West, the Shiite fanatics don't fear death, but welcome it, as the entrance to Paradise, guaranteed for Islamist martyrs.

They must surely have mistaken Paradise for Hell, since it seems far more likely that this would be their final destination. The message has always been one of hatred, through their warped religious perception as the faithful of Islam for whom violent jihad represents a blessed obligation they are more than happy to fulfill. This is a lesson given them by the Iranian revolutionaries whose rise inspired Lebanese Shiites to emulate the admired Ayatollah Khomeini who dispatched the Revolutionary Guard Corps al Quds division to Lebanon in the 1980s.

Under their tutelage the new Shiite Lebanese group titled themselves the Party of God and happily embarked on their newly assigned role as a non-state military adjunct to the Islamic Republic of Iran, more than eager to advance the cause of Shiite Islamism, as an Iranian terror proxy. And they did so with great distinction, from the massive bombing they were responsible for that demolished the American barracks in the bombing in 1983 Beirut that killed 220 Marines, 18 sailors, and three soldiers.

And this was the work of Badreddine. He was also the brains behind the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister, Rafic Hariri. For this he was tried in absentia by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, in the Hague, and indicted on four charges as "the overall controller of the operation". Three other members of Hezbollah were accused and tried alongside their chief. That indictment included Badreddine's part in Kuwait 1983 bombings targeting the French and American embassies.

A member of Hezbollah who had been once interrogated by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service spoke of Badreddine as being "more dangerous that his relative Imad Mughniyeh", who had formerly held the elite post that Badreddine held when he died, and who had been "his teacher in terrorism". They were both involved in the bombing of the U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut. Mughniyeh was killed in a targeted attack by the Israel Defence Forces in removing a threat to Israel.

Badreddine's reputation as a ruthless killer and expert tactician in the Arab world recognizes him as a legendary figure, a hero, and now a martyr whose name and exploits will be written in blood and awe. In 1984, the Kuwaiti government had sentenced him to death after finding him implicated in the deadly bombings that had  targeted the American and French embassies and the airport. Fortune intervened for him when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990 and released inmates from various prisons in Kuwait.

In 2012, The US Treasury Department placed Badreddine, also known as Mustafa Badr Al Din, Youssef Badreddine, Sami Issa and Elias Fouad Saab, on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists. He was the mastermind of countless military operations mounted against Israel from Lebanon and from overseas locations. He was a skilled clandestine operator, hard to pin down, let alone be easily captured to stand trial for his crimes.

"There are few official records in Lebanon relating to Mustafa Badreddine [… He has never been issued a passport. He has never been issued a driver’s license. He is not the registered owner of any property in Lebanon", noted a prosecutor for the ICC in a 2011 indictment. "The authorities have no records of him entering or leaving Lebanon. No records are held by the Ministry of Finance which would reflect that he pays any taxes. There are no bank accounts in any of the banks or any of the financial institutions in the country in his name."

The man who was hardly there to be found officially in Lebanon and whose clandestine operational capabilities made him a legend and a feared attacker, is no longer to be found on Earth. He has been dispatched elsewhere, and precisely where is a matter of delicate debate.

“Badreddine passes as an unrecognizable and virtually untraceable ghost throughout Lebanon, leaving no footprint." And none too soon.

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