Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah paid a recent visit to Tehran to work on a plan of revenge on Saudi Arabia for its suspected twin suicide bombing attacks on the Iranian embassy in Beirut on Nov. 19, in which 23 people were killed and 146 injured.
Among the dead were the cultural attaché, whose real job was more military and clandestine than cultural, and security officers guarding the building.
Two weeks later, on Dec. 4, Hassan al-Laqqis, chief of operations of Hizballah’s security and intelligence branch, was shot dead at close range by an assassin supported by two accessories in the Dahia quarter, Hizballah’s stronghold in Beirut.
Al-Laqqis had been assigned with drafting a plan of operation for avenging the Beirut embassy bombing and presenting it to Nasrallah for approval. Before he could do this, he was killed, providing Hizballah and Tehran with a double motive for revenge and a reminder that both were still in their enemy’s sights.
Both are convinced of the identity of that enemy as being Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar Bin Sultan and are determined to settle the score with him.
Nasrallah arrived in Tehran with a delegation which included Hizballah’s security chief Wafiq Safa who is married to his sister, and Mustapha Badreddine, a top terrorist executive with long experience in staging large-scale terrorist operations.
President Rouhani’s intelligence minister attended Nasrallah’s meeting
Badreddine is also supreme coordinator of Hizballah’s military operations in Syria and in charge of liaison with the Iranian Al Qods Brigades commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Iran’s spy and terror networks in the Gulf and the Middle East.
Iran’s Minister of Intelligence Mahmoud Alavi, who is close to President Hassan Rouhani, was present at all Nasrallah’s meetings in Tehran.
Western intelligence sources following the clandestine war between Saudi Arabia and Iran and Hizballah, agree that Tehran and its Lebanese surrogate would lose face seriously if they failed to respond to the Beirut embassy bombing.
Iran has a history of terrorist strikes inside Saudi Arabia. The 1996 Khobar Towers attack on US Air Force barracks in the kingdom, one example, was payback for the shooting down of the Iran Air Flight 655 passenger plane eight years earlier by a rocket fired from the USS Vincennes off the Saudi coast.
In 2003, Tehran lifted the restrictions placed on Al Qaeda operatives granted asylum in Meshaad, trained and armed them, and sent them out to conduct a series of spectacular terrorist strikes in Riyadh.
A close associate of Nasrallah, Ibrahim Amin, suggested that the Saudi embassy, diplomatic personnel or nationals in Lebanon or abroad could be the next targets for Iran and Hizballah.
Western intelligence and military circles in the region fear that in the already overheated climate between them, such an attack may well ignite a major military clash between Saudi Arabia and Iran.