The top clandestine operative for Lebanese-based terror organization Hezbollah was killed in an IDF military operation in Syria overnight Friday, according to Arab media reports.
Mustafa Amine Badreddine was reportedly killed near the Damascus airport in an Israeli Air Force strike. Badreddine is said to be the highest ranking official in the Shi’ite paramilitary group behind the organization’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah.
“He took part in most of the operations of the Islamic resistance since 1982,” Hezbollah said in a statement announcing his death.
Badreddine’s reputation as a ruthless killer and tactician in the Arab world is legendary. In 1984, the Kuwaiti government sentenced him to death after implicating him in a number of deadly bombings, which targeted the American and French embassies and the airport, according to Internet publication The Daily Beast.
He later escaped execution after Saddam Hussain invaded Kuwait in 1990, releasing scores of inmates from numerous prisons, fleeing to Beirut shortly after.
Prosecutors for the International Criminal Court have also accused Badreddine of committing numerous war crimes, alleging in a 2011 report that he, along with a small contingent of collaborators, was behind the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.
In 2012, The US Treasury Department placed Badreddine, also known as Mustafa Badr Al Din, Mustafa Youssef Badreddine, Sami Issa and Elias Fouad Saab, on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists.
For years, Badreddine, 55 remained elusive, avoiding capture by Arab governments or international bodies by taking refuge deep inside Syria and Iran.
“There are few official records in Lebanon relating to Mustafa Badreddine […] He has never been issued a passport. He has never been issued a driver’s license. He is not the registered owner of any property in Lebanon,” a prosecutor for the ICC wrote in a 2011 indictment.
“The authorities have no records of him entering or leaving Lebanon. No records are held by the Ministry of Finance which would reflect that he pays any taxes. There are no bank accounts in any of the banks or any of the financial institutions in the country in his name.”
“Badreddine passes as an unrecognizable and virtually untraceable ghost throughout Lebanon, leaving no footprint,” he added.