Created by the Israeli team behind the wildly successful show Fauda, the miniseries Ghosts of Beirut dramatizes the story of Imad Mughniyeh, the former second-in-command of Hizballah. Mughniyeh—who before 2001 had killed more Americans than any other terrorist—was killed in Damascus by the CIA, with the assistance of the Mossad. Hussain Abdul-Hussain argues that the series distorts crucial facts about its subject’s career, and thus about the history of jihadism.
The show opens with [Iranian] Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officers approaching Mughniyeh, then working as a car mechanic, and plucking him out of obscurity. This is incorrect. If anything, it was Mughniyeh who helped found the IRGC.
In 1970, Jordan expelled Palestinian militias, then under the command of Yasir Arafat. They relocated to Lebanon, . . . which allowed Palestinian armed factions to roam the country freely. Arafat thus became Lebanon’s strongest militiaman and de-facto ruler, just like Hizballah’s chief Hassan Nasrallah today. In his tug and pull with the Lebanese state, Arafat instructed his second-in-command, Khalil al-Wazir, better known by his nom du guerre Abu Jihad, to form an elite unit, Force 17, designed to counter Lebanon’s Police Force 16.
Because the shah [of Iran] had been Israel’s ally, Arafat had sponsored and trained the Iranian opposition that would seize power in the revolution.
It was through his association with Force 17 that Mughniyeh came into contact with the Iranian jihadists who seized control of Persia in 1979, founded the IRGC, and now direct Hizballah:
After America went to war in Iraq in 2003, Mughniyeh planned attacks that killed American troops. While Ghosts of Beirut covered these attacks well, it incorrectly implied that some of them were ordered by Mughniyeh without IRGC knowledge. . . . To depict Mughniyeh as anything other than a pawn of Tehran goes against everything that is known about [him].