3/29/92 at 7:00 PM
Was the killing of the Hizbullah leader Sheik Abbas Musawi, assassinated in Lebanon last month by the Israelis, an accident? After the attack by Israeli helicopter gunships on a convoy carrying the Shiite cleric and his family, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens called the raid a planned assault aimed at sending a "message to all terrorist organizations." In fact, NEWSWEEK has learned, it was a botched operation. The real goal of the mission, Israeli sources say, was to kidnap Musawi and bring him to Israel for trial or exchange for an Israeli POW believed held by the Hizbullah.
The operation went wrong, the sources say, when the U.S.made Apache helicopters tracking the convoy misfired. They were meant to take out the vehicle carrying Musawi's bodyguards, allowing commandos in a backup chopper to land and capture him alive. Instead, an Israeli missile hit Musawi's car, incinerating everyone in it. An Israeli armed forces spokesman denied there was any plan to "kidnap" Musawi.