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Iran Used Hezbollah to Kill 241 U.S. Servicemen

The manner in which Iran uses Hezbollah to commit acts of terrorism to advance Iran’s strategic objectives in the Middle East was dramatically illustrated in the May 20, 2003, opinion issued by U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth in the case of Peterson v. the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The opinion ordered Iran to pay damages to the families of U.S. servicemen killed in Hezbollah’s 1983 attack on the U.S. Marine barracks at the Beirut airport. In arriving at his decision, Lamberth detailed the evidence gathered by the court that proved that Iran was behind the attack. Here is an excerpt:

“The complicity of Iran in the 1983 attack was established conclusively at trial by the testimony of Adm. James A. Lyons, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Plans, Policy and Operation from 1983-85. As deputy chief, Adm. Lyons routinely received intelligence information about American military forces. On Oct. 25, 1983, the chief of naval intelligence notified Adm. Lyons of an intercept of a message between Tehran and Damascus that had been made on or about Sept. 26, 1983. The message had been sent from MOIS to the Iranian ambassador to Syria, Ali Akbar Mohtashemi, who presently serves as an adviser to the president of Iran, Mohammad Khatami. The message directed the Iranian ambassador to contact Hussein Musawi, the leader of the terrorist group Islamic Amal, and to instruct him to have his group instigate attacks against the multinational coalition in Lebanon, and ‘to take a spectacular action against the United States Marines.’ Adm. Lyons testified that he has absolutely no doubt of the authenticity or reliability of the message, which he took immediately to the secretary of the navy and chief of naval operations, who viewed it, as he did, as a ‘24-karat gold document.’ …

“The court heard the videotaped deposition testimony of a Hezbollah member known by the pseudonym ‘Mahmoud,’ who was a member of the group that carried out the October 23 attack. Mahmoud, a Lebanese Shi’ite Muslim, testified that Ambassador Mohtashemi contacted a man named Kanani, the leader of the Lebanese headquarters of the IRG [Iranian Revolutionary Guard]. Mohtashemi instructed Kanani to go forward with attacks that had been planned against the 24th MAU [Marine Amphibious Unit] and the French paratroopers. Mahmoud testified that a meeting was later held in Baalbek, Lebanon, which was attended by Kanani and Sheik Sobhi Tufaili, Sheik Abbas Musawi, and Sheik Hassan Nasrallah. Nasrallah is the present leader of Hezbollah. Musawi, Nasrallah’s immediate predecessor as the leader of Hezbollah, was killed in a Feb. 16, 1992, Israeli attack. Tufaili is a former secretary general of Hezbollah.

“During this meeting, Kanani and the Hezbollah members formed a plan to carry out simultaneous attacks against the American and French barracks in Lebanon. Mahmoud described the meeting and its aftermath: ‘They got the order. They met and adopted the operation against the Marines and the French barracks in the same time. The Marines operation was done. …’

“On the morning of Oct. 23, 1983, members of Hezbollah ambushed the real water delivery truck before it arrived at the barracks. An observer was placed on a hill near the barracks to monitor the operation. The fake water delivery truck then set out for the barracks, driven by Ismalal Ascari, an Iranian. … The resulting explosion was the largest non-nuclear explosion that had ever been detonated on the face of the Earth.”

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