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11 October 2001    Yediot Aharonot

by Ronen Bergman

Responsible for the Kidnapping of Ron Arad

Among the Wanted: Imad Mournaya, Hizballah Officer of Operations

Imad Mournaya, in charge of Hizballah's activity abroad and coordinator between the organization and Iran, is aware that world intelligence agencies, including Israel, are interesting in his execution, and he has recently undergone a series of plastic surgery operations to change his appearance.

Mournaya, nicknamed "Carlos the Iranian", is the "brains" behind Hizballah activities. He has been involved in a long line of terrorist attacks throughout the world, including the kidnapping of navigator Ron Arad, and private citizen Elchanan Tannenbaum at the hands of Hizballah.

Mournaya was born in the Lebanese city of Tyre to a religious Shi'ite family. He already began his terrorist career in the 1970's as an operations member in Fatah, and after the Lebanon War he joined Hizballah, then established under Iranian auspices. Mournaya has a basic part in the Ron Arad episode. One of his people is apparently the person who took Arad from the hands of Moustafa Dirani's men and transferred him to Teheran disguised as a wounded Iranian.

His fingerprints were also present in the terrorist attack on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in April 1983, as well as on other US and French bases in Lebanon in October of that year, in which over 300 people were killed. Mournaya is also the one who, in 1965, hijacked and blew up a Jordanian plane in full view of cameras at the Beirut airport.

On the 17th of March 1992, a car bomb exploded beside the Israel Embassy in Buenos Aires. Four Israelis and five local Jews were killed. Nine people were injured. According to estimates in Israel the attack was in revenge for the assassination of the General Secretary of Hizballah, Sheikh Abbas Mousawee, the previous month. This time, too, Mournaya's name was linked to the attack.

Two years later a similar attack was perpetrated at the Jewish Community Center building in the city, again under the command and negotiation of Mournaya.

Mournaya has survived many attempts on his life, and in 1997 he disappeared. Information agencies in the West have identified him in Iran and have estimated that he has resigned from his terrorist activities. Three years have passed since then, and his current return completely changes the rules of the game.

On the wanted list are two others belonging to Hizballah who are apparently hiding out in Lebanon, Ali Atwa and Hassan Iz A-din, natives of Lebanon. The two are accused of the hijacking of a civilian plane in June 1985, which ended in an attack on the passengers and crew and the murder of a US citizen. Atwa is also known by his aliases: Aman Mansur Buslim and Hassan Rustan Salim. Hassan Iz A-din is also known as Ahmad Garbaya and Samir Salwan.

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