The White House reproached Iran’s foreign minister on Tuesday for honoring a former Hezbollah commander responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans.
“The United States condemns the decision taken by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif Khonsari to place a wreath at the grave of Imad Mughniyeh, a former leader of Lebanese Hezbollah responsible for heinous acts of terrorism that killed hundreds of innocent people, including Americans,” National Security Council Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.
Mughniyeh was a key military commander of Hezbollah’s paramilitary and intelligence arms.
American officials have said he was a planner of the 1983 bombings of the US Marines barracks and US Embassy in Lebanon that killed over 300 Americans, a handful of French troops and dozens of Lebanese citizens.
“The inhumane violence that Mughniyeh perpetrated – and that Lebanese Hezbollah continues to perpetrate in the region with Iran’s financial and material support — has had profoundly destabilizing and deadly effects for Lebanon and the region,” Hayden added.
“The decision to commemorate an individual who has participated in such vicious acts, and whose organization continues to actively support terrorism worldwide, sends the wrong message and will only exacerbate tensions in the region,” he said.
Mughniyeh was assassinated in 2008, in an operation that is widely believed to have been carried out by Israeli agents. Hezbollah has vowed to retaliate.