The United Nations of America was shaken after its embassy in Lebanon was bombed byImad Mughniyeh, a.k.a. the Ghost of Beirut. They still didn t have any sort of intel on the guy who did it, though they did have an idea that some jihadist group was behind it. It was still early days for the Islamist Jihad organisation led by Imad Mughniyeh, and that is why nobody believed that they had the potential to commit such an act. Also, truck bombs and suicide bombers were not commonly heard of back then, and local CIA agents had no clue about the kind of enemy they were dealing with. The CIA s anti-terrorism wing was stranded in the dark, and they were trying to find that one potential lead that could lead them to the perpetrator. So, in the recap ofGhosts Of BeirutEpisode 2, let s try to find out what Imad Mughniyeh wanted to do next and what the strategy of the CIA chief, William Buckley, who had come as a replacement for Robert Ames, was.
How Did The Cia Get To Know About Imad Mughniyeh?
William Buckley had come to Beirut to lead the CIA unit stationed there and find the perpetrators who had bombed the American embassy. The diplomats, the CIA, and other United States officers were sharing the embassy with the U.K. for the time being, and at this point, they had no clue that a man named Imad Mughniyeh existed and was the mastermind of the entire attack. There were rumors about who could be behind the attacks, and the CIA didn t know who to believe and who not to. Some believed the Syrians to be behind it, and some blamed other Arab countries. Chet Riley joined the CIA team, and Buckley asked him to accompany him as he was going to meet the Shia leader Abu Hassan and needed someone to translate what he was saying. Chet could speak Arabic, and that was a big advantage in a situation like this. Abu Hassan said that the Islamic jihadist group had a spiritual leader by the name of Sheikh Fadlallah, and he believed that he might know something about who was behind the attacks. The thing was, Imad Mughniyeh was called the Ghost of Beirut for a reason, as there was no trace of his existence in any of the records that the United States government had. The man operated in the shadows, and he never did anything that would bring him into the light.
Buckley and Chet met an informant who told them that two more attacks were being planned and that the Islamist Jihad organization would hit the U.S. embassy once again in the near future. The informant didn t give them a name and told them that the man behind the attacks was a ghost whom nobody knew about. The security of the shared embassy building was increased, and the soldiers were keeping an eye out for any kind of suspicious activity. Meanwhile, Imad was planning another attack, but this time he wanted to target the embassy in Kuwait. He knew that there were quite a lot of repercussions to doing something so big in a foreign land, but he also knew that the U.S. government wouldn t see it coming as their entire focus was on securing their base in Lebanon. Imad asked his brother-in-law, Mustafa, to go to Kuwait and take charge of things, as the Kuwaiti members of the jihadist organization did not have any experience in suicide bombings. On October 23, 1983, the Marine Headquarters and the Drakkar building, in which a few French nationals were staying, were reduced to dust in Lebanon, and approximately two months later, on December 12, the American Embassy in Kuwait was bombed. In all the cases, the suicide bombers rammed the compound with a truck full of explosives, believing that by doing so, they would be instantly transported to paradise, where they would be welcomed as martyrs.
After the bombings inGhosts Of BeirutEpisode 2, Chet and Buckley once again called the informant and, this time, pressured him to tell them the name of the leader of the Islamist jihad group. That s when the informant told them that he was called Imad Mughniyeh and also referred to as Hajj Radwan.
Why Did Imad Plan To Kill William Buckley?
Chet had reason to believe that Iran was funding the operations of the Islamic Jihad group and that the key decisions were being taken in Tehran and not in Lebanon. Chet knew that there was an age-old rule in the intelligence world that to find the real perpetrator, one had to always follow the money trail. He had seen that huge payments were being made to the jihadist group, and he had a hunch that Iran was channeling them through its various shell companies in West Africa. But nobody believed him, and it was discarded as merely speculation. Mustafa, Imad s brother-in-law, had been caught in Kuwait alive, and the Kuwaiti government was not in a mood to negotiate terms, and they had put out the statement plain and clear that no matter what, they were not going to release him. Saada, Imad s wife, told him that she wanted her brother back at any cost. Imad loved his wife, and he knew that he would have to bring him home, so he started threatening the CIA to facilitate deportation as he believed that Kuwait would listen to the United States. Imad started kidnapping American nationals in Lebanon, and finally, they made their big move and kidnapped William Buckley. They knew that the U.S. government was stubborn, and they wouldn t pay attention to them until they hit them where it mattered the most.
Chet had become really close to Buckley in the short span of time they were together, and there were a lot of things that he admired in the man. He had a huge amount of respect for his work ethic, for his honesty, and, moreover, for the genuine and humble person that he was. Chet knew that they had to immediately hit the Iranian training camp in Baalbek, as he believed that Buckley was being held there. Dewey Clarridge didn t give him permission to do that, and he got frustrated as time was running out and every second mattered. He decided that he would find the truth and go check out the training camp himself. Chet s speculations were absolutely right, but his supervisors believed that Iran had nothing to do with the Islamic jihad group. After clicking pictures in Baalbek, he went to Cyprus to meet Dewey and show him that his speculations were not baseless. The pictures did show that there were armed men in the training camp, but then again, it was not solid proof, and Dewey had already made up his mind. Dewey asked Chet to focus on the imam, Sheikh Fadlallah, and not on Asgari or any other Iranian, as they did not come under his scope of work.
The ending ofGhosts Of BeirutEpisode 2 made the CIA realize that if they had listened to what Chet was saying, they probably could have saved William Buckley. Dewey had decided that he would retaliate with full force and teach the jihadist group a lesson in the only language they were capable of understanding. They planted a bomb just outside the school that Imad had recently opened with the huge amount of money he had gotten from the Iranian government. Haider, Imad s brother, was killed in the explosion, but Imad Mughniyeh survived. Apart from the members of the jihadist group, there were a lot of women and children who also lost their lives. Chet knew that the blunder had been committed and that nothing could save Buckley now. Soon after the explosion, Buckley was killed, and his body was dropped on the highway by the same informant who told the CIA about Imad.
Although Dewey s strategy did go wrong, the entire blame couldn t be put on him. Imad Mughniyeh never had the intention of keeping Buckley alive. We had seen him talking to Asgari and telling him that he was not going to leave Buckley, even if Iran wanted it the other way around. Chet had lost a friend, and it frustrated him that his own agency did not show faith in him. He believed that had they listened to him, Buckley would have been saved, but now that boat had sailed. Chet knew he had lost the battle, and in the upcoming episodes ofGhosts Of Beirut, we will know if he is able to gather himself once again and strategically think about what he should do next to catch Mughniyeh.