U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he “doesn’t know the facts” when asked on Saturday about a report in the Washington Post, according to which the CIA and the Mossad were behind a plot to kill Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh in 2008.
Kerry, who spoke in Boston following a meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird and Mexican Foreign Secretary Jose Antonio Meade, was asked whether the report was true and “what are the implications of this disclosure for the Iran nuclear talks and any Middle East peace efforts?”
“I don’t have any comment at all on a report – first of all, I haven’t seen it, and secondly, I don’t know what all the facts are,” Kerry responded, according to a transcript released by the State Department.
“And thirdly, we don’t comment – certainly, the State Department doesn’t comment on any matter of intelligence or intelligence allegation. And so I can’t say anything further,” he added.
According to the transcript, Baird then added that “Canada has listed Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Just this past week, it’s killed two IDF soldiers in northern Israel.”
Friday’s report in the Post, which cited former intelligence officials, the newspaper said that U.S. and Israeli spy agencies worked together to target Mughniyeh on February 12, 2008 as he left a restaurant in the Syrian capital Damascus.
He was killed instantly by a car bomb planted in a spare tire on the back of a parked car, which exploded shrapnel in a tight radius, the newspaper said.
The bomb, built by the United States and tested in the state of North Carolina, was triggered remotely by Mossad agents in Tel Aviv who were in communication with Central Intelligence Agency operatives on the ground in Damascus.
A senior Hezbollah commander, Mughniyeh was suspected of masterminding the abduction of Western hostages in Lebanon in the 1980s and of the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Argentina that killed 29 people.
He was also linked to the bombing of the US marine barracks at Beirut airport in 1983, in which 241 American servicemen died, and the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in 1985, in which a U.S. navy diver was killed.
The CIA declined to comment to the Post about the report.
Israel has never confirmed or denied whether it had anything to do with Mughniyeh’s death. A Lebanese daily in February of 2013 presented what it claimed was a detailed account of his death and it, too, said the Mossad was responsible for Mughniyeh’s death, though the CIA was not mentioned in that report.
Mughniyeh’s son, Jihad Mughniyeh, was recently killed in an airstrike in the Syrian Golan Heights which has been blamed on Israel. The younger Mughniyeh was reportedly planning terrorist attacks on northern Israel and headed an Iranian-backed terrorist cell.