London- The so-called Lebanese Hezbollah group has appointed Mustafa Mughniyeh as military commander following the murder of his uncle Mustafa Badreddine in mysterious circumstances near Damascus airport, well-informed Lebanese sources said.
The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Mughniyeh is the son of Badreddine’s sister who was married to Hezbollah’s previous military chief Imad Mughniyeh.
The source said that Mustafa was given the same name as his uncle because he was born when Badreddine was serving a jail term in Kuwait after he was convicted over bomb attacks in 1983.
Mustafa Mughniyeh is a mysterious personality who has never appeared in the media based on a decision by the party to give him high-ranking posts, the sources said.
Unlike his brother Jihad, who on many occasions had appeared behind Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, Mustafa has stayed away from the media glare.
He even steered clear of the media when his brother Jihad was killed in an Israeli raid in the Syrian region of Qunaitra last year.
Israeli intelligence analyst Ronen Solomon says that Mustafa Mughniyeh is not known to have any photos.
His photo wasn’t even taken while his parents celebrated his birth in Tehran in 1987.
According to Solomon’s investigation, “in 2005, he was 18 years old – the age when one completes basic military training in Hezbollah and is sent to specialize in a certain field. At the same time, Mustafa began joining his father on operational missions, and hence received an informal education.”
Mustafa became close to his uncle after his father’s death in a 2008 car bombing in Damascus.
“He participated in several missions with the security agencies that fall under Badreddine’s command and held several posts to keep the security of top figures in the party,” said Solomon.
“It can be presumed that Mustafa’s identity has been kept mysterious, as opposed to his brother, to ensure that in the future he will be included in secret missions, such as those carried out by the 910 unit (Hezbollah’s unit in charge of overseas attacks), led by his uncle Mustafa Badreddine,” said the analyst.
The Lebanese sources said that Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, who allegedly was with Badreddine when he was assassinated, had traveled to Beirut to make the arrangements inside the Hezbollah leadership.
An Iranian investigation team is participating in the overview of the security of Hezbollah officials in Lebanon and Syria after remarks were made about “lax” security measures.
Iran’s Tasnim news agency said on Monday that Soleimani made a secret visit to Beirut last Saturday to express his condolences to Badreddine’s family.
“We have lost a leader and a brother,” the agency quoted Soleimani as saying.
“This tragedy is a great loss for the entire Islamic nation, as losing a figure like Zulfiqar (Badreddine) cannot be limited (only) to a certain area, country or suburb,” he added.