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January 29, 2014

News You Might Have Missed

javid wreath.jpg

On Jan. 31, the annual Munich Security Conference will resume. This year, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has been invited to attend. He will hold discussions with Carl Bildt, the former Prime Minister of Sweden and others to discuss Iran's nuclear program. This was reported by the Iranian news agency Farsnews and announced in the official Munich conference press release. But it received scant attention in the U.S. media.

The New York Times did carry a report on Jan. 28 announcing the convening of the conference, but made no mention of Zarif's planned attendance.

Also, on Jan. 14, National Security Council spokesman Caitlin Hayden issued the following statement:

The United States condemns the decision taken by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif Khonsari to place a wreath at the grave of Imad Mugniyah, a former leader of Lebanese Hezbollah responsible for heinous acts of terrorism that killed hundreds of innocent people, including Americans. The inhumane violence that Mugniyah perpetrated and that Lebanese Hezbollah continues to perpetrate in the region with Iran's financial and material support -- has had profoundly destabilizing and deadly effects for Lebanon and the region.

The decision to commemorate an individual who has participated in such vicious acts, and whose organization continues to actively support terrorism worldwide, sends the wrong message and will only exacerbate tensions in the region.

The reason you might not have heard about this is that it got little coverage. It was briefly noted by The New York Times, buried in the middle of an article on U.S. and Iranian relations by Mark Landler on Jan. 17 and at the end of a piece by Rick Gladstone on proposed Iranian sanctions legislation on Jan. 14. This was how Gladstone's piece introduced the topic:

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based group that supports tough sanctions, criticized Mr. Zarif on Tuesday for paying respects on Monday in Beirut, Lebanon, at the grave of Imad Mughniyeh, an assassinated commander in the military wing of Hezbollah, the Shiite political organization allied with Iran.

The placement of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which is tainted by the fact that it is lobbying for sanctions against Iran, in front of the statement by the U.S. government, is interesting. The Times can't quite get themselves to describe this arch-terrorist as a terrorist and they have to let us know that the people who brought the story to our attention - and do describe Mugniyah as a terrorist - are supporters of tough sanctions. Mugniyah is unambiguously a terrorist and that is what he is known for, not for being a military commander.

The man the Iranian Foreign Minister was paying homage to, Imad Mugniyah, was Hezbollah's chief planner of terrorist attacks. He was widely suspected of being behind such acts as the U.S. embassy bombing in 1983 that killed 63 and the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks that killed 241 Marines stationed in Beirut as peacekeepers. He was tied to the kidnapping and torture of CIA station chief William Buckley, and the hijacking of TWA flight 847 in 1985 during which navy diver Robert Steetham was murdered. He is also strongly suspected to have been involved in the terrorist bombings against Jewish targets in Argentina that caused the deaths of over a hundred people.

He was also suspected of involvement in the cross-border attack that resulted in the deaths of eight Israeli soldiers and kidnapping of two more in 2006. He was assassinated in Syria in 2008.

Posted by SS at January 29, 2014 03:04 PM


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