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Hezbollah Mourns Slain Leader, Threatens to Attack Israel

The leader of Hezbollah threatened Thursday an attack on Israel, blaming it for Tuesday's car bombing that left one of the group's top commanders, Imad Mughniyeh, dead. Two Middle East experts assess the repercussions of the feared terrorist's death.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Next, a most-wanted terrorist, now dead. Margaret Warner has that story.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    The body of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh was returned to his native Lebanon today, two days after he was killed in a car bombing in Damascus.

    Surrounded by tens of thousands of mourners and draped in the Hezbollah flag, Mugniyeh's coffin was carried through the streets of south Beirut.

    At the funeral, Hezbollah's chief, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, delivered a fiery speech prerecorded from a secret location. Nasrallah has accused Israel of assassinating Mughniyeh, and today he vowed retaliation.

    SHEIK HASSAN NASRALLAH, Hezbollah leader (through translator): Given this killing, the time, place and style, Zionists, if you want this kind of open warfare, then let the whole world listen: Let it be this open warfare.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Israel has strongly denied any involvement in the death of Mughniyeh, who was one of the most elusive, hunted terrorists in the world.

    A Lebanese farmer's son radicalized during the Mideast turmoil of the 1970s, Mughniyeh was on the FBI's most-wanted list for more than two decades. He stood accused of many acts of terror.

    In 1985, Mughniyeh led a Hezbollah group that held a hijacked TWA plane at the Beirut airport and tortured and murdered a passenger, U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem. He was implicated in the kidnapping and killings of a CIA station chief and a Marine colonel in Lebanon in the early 1980s.

    Some Western analysts also have suggested he was linked to the 1983 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Beirut and subsequent attack on the Marine barracks there. Israel also accused him of being behind the 1992 and 1994 bombings of its embassy and a Jewish cultural center in Argentina.

    Imad Mughniyeh will be buried tomorrow in the Hezbollah stronghold of the south Beirut suburbs.