Ghosts of Beirut highlights the CIA's decade-long search for the terrorist leader (2023)

When Milton Bearden was asked in 2013 about the similarities between terrorist leaders Osama bin Laden and Immad Mughniyah, the 30-year-old CIA veteran was quick to label both "pathological killers."

However, that was where the similarity between them ended. It was the devious brutality of Mughniyah, the elusive Lebanese-born genius responsible for more deaths in America than any other person before 9/11, that ensured his place among the CIA's top targets.

"Bin Laden has always been a persistent amateur: his widely publicized past, his false claims," ​​Bearden told author Mark Perry in an interview.A 2013 story in foreign policy. “Bin Laden cowered and hid. Mughniyeh has spent his life pointing the finger at us."

Mughniyah was assassinated in 2008 in Damascus, decades after allegedly orchestrating some of Hezbollah's deadliest terrorist attacks in Beirut, including the 1983 bombings of the US embassy and naval barracks that killed more than 350 people in total.

The bomb that killed him, a device activated by agents in Tel Aviv hidden in the spare wheel of a vehicle along his walk, was the culmination of a joint operation between the CIA and Mossad, Israel's national intelligence agency.

The decades-long search for Mughniyah, also known as al-Hajj Radwan, has now formed the basis of Showtime's four-part series "Ghosts of Beirut," a massive venture led by Emmy Award winner Greg Barker ("Manhunt: The Inside Story of the Hunt for Bin Laden") .

Oscillating between Lebanon in the early 1980s and Iraq in 2007, the dramatic narrative weaves journalistic investigations and first-hand accounts from CIA and Mossad officials to create a espionage thriller that, while technically fictional due to the classified nature of some issues, comes with "basic truth," Barker told the Military Times.

"We're telling it as a fictional story, but I wanted it to be as real as possible," Barker said. “So that meant talking to multiple sources about whatcouldhappened or what youthinkhas become?'"

The consulting source on the show wasDouglas London, a veteran Marine who spent 34 years in the CIA's secret service and understood Mughniyah's reputation in 17 years abroad.

"Mughniyah had a lot of wit," he told the London Military Times. "What made him particularly effective was his ability to go beyond what was done and be inventive."

In particular, suicide bombings became the basis of Mughniyah's terrorist operations. This method became popular during his rise to power and became a routine threat in later conflicts.

"The idea of ​​martyrdom for Islamic terrorist groups was unheard of at the time," said London, who now teaches at Georgetown University's Center for Security Studies. “Suicide is prohibited by the Koran, but Hezbollah, with the support of Iran, has been able to put another stamp on it, just as we have seen al-Qaeda and the Islamic State put their own stamp on things. He was very inventive at finding ways to sow chaos and fear."

High-profile kidnappings have also been used, including the broad daylight kidnapping of a CIA station chief.william bracein March 1984. Buckley had just taken office after agency officer Robert Ames was killed in an April 1983 explosion that rocked the U.S. Embassy and shocked the Reagan administration.

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Buckley's kidnapping was unlike any act of terror the agency had faced. It suggested meticulous surveillance and intelligence gathering, not automatic decision-making.

"It was new, the idea that they could touch us directly," London said.

Buckley was intensely tortured for 14 months and died on June 3 the following year. His remains would not be returned to the United States until 1991.

“They show they can do it, that no one is immune to them. We have been making extensive and arduous efforts for a long time to get it back; we have completely failed,” seniorThe CIA officer recalled in an interview with PBS. “The capture of Bill Buckley essentially ended the CIA's intelligence activities in this country. It was a huge blow."

From bombings to kidnappings, Mughniyeh's bold but calculating influence began to make its mark around the world, with terrorist operations stretching from Lebanon and Iraq to Israel and Argentina.

In its devastating aftermath, a trail of mutilated bodies, broken lives, countless families torn apart. Mughniyeh's barbaric influence, imitated by those who have tried to replicate his deeds for years, still marks the region.

"He was in a league of his own," said Barker.

The events depicted in the series over the 25 years leading up to Mughniyeh's assassination became a catalyst for introspection among CIA agents and the rest of the intelligence community. London said whatever arrogance existed had been stopped.

"It was a wake-up call that you should never write off the enemy," London said. "Unfortunately, it was a lesson that took a while to get used to, but we adapted."

Complemented by American, Lebanese and Israeli perspectives, "Ghosts of Beirut" traces the course of Mughniyeh's ruthless history through the ever-evolving landscape of regional politics and the ups and downs of its most brutal actors.

The series stars Amir Khoury as Imad Mughniyeh in 1982, Hisham Suleiman as Mughniyeh in 2007, Dina Shihabi as Lebanese-American CIA agent Lena Asayran and Dermot Mulroney as CIA officer Robert Ames. The film is executive produced by Avi Issacharoff and Lior Raz ("Fauda") and Daniel Dreifuss ("Silence on the Western Front").

Arroyo"Ghosts of Beirut"Paramount+ is now Hulu.

The Observation Post is Military Times' one-stop-shop for all off-duty matters. Stories may reflect the author's observations.

OJon Simkins

(Video) 50 Insane Declassified FBI Secrets You Didn’t Know

Jon Simkins is a writer and editor of the Military Times and a USMC veteran.

hang tags:

Imada MughniyahPokaz Imada MughniyahImada Mughniyah BeirutImad Mughniyah IraqCIA Beirutcia mashedMossad operationsNear Easttight films

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