ANALYSIS: Imad Mughniyah - The Epitome of the 'Axis of Evil'

All of the Iranian-planned terrorist attacks carried out by Hezbollah were masterminded by Mughniya.

It there is, or rather if there was, a man who symbolized the very essence of the 'Axis of Evil,' his name was Imad Fayez Mughniyah. The link between Iran and Hezbollah, between the extreme Ayatollah ideology and the Lebanese Shiite movement is epitomized by Mughniyah.

Titles such as Hezbollah "operations chief" or "deputy head" reflected very little of his actual activity. Mughniyah is at the top of the FBI most wanted list, surpassed only by Osama Bin Laden and the prize on his head is $5 million.

If what the Arab press has rushed to announce is true, then that prize belongs to Meir Dagan and the Mossad.

Iran saw Mughniyah as a crucial asset. Along with the Iranian ambassador and the commander of the Revolution Guard Corps, Mugniyah served as the Iranian presence in Lebanon.

All of the Iranian-planned terrorist attacks carried out by Hezbollah were masterminded by Mughniyah himself. The killing of top terror chiefs has been questioned in the past, since sometimes the successor is even worse. A classic example of this is the assassination of Abbas Musawi in 1992, only to be replaced by the chasrismatic Hassan Nasrallah.

However, with Mughniyah this is not the case. It will take Iran and Hezbollah a great amount of time to find a worthy replacement.

Whoever tracked Mughniyah down in Syria had excellent operational and intelligent abilities, something that was lacking in the Second Lebanon War. The Winograd panel wrote in its report that the wait for a special operation against Mughniyah or Nasrallah caused Israel to hesitate during the war.

The operation sends a poignant message to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah and will make them think twice about opening a second front if Israel is to enter Gaza in a major ground incursion.

The successful operation also makes one wonder how Israel failed to track down abducted Israel Defense Forces soldiers Ron Arad, Gilad Shalit, Eldad Regev and Udi Goldwasser.

The immediate question, however, is whether or not Hezbollah or Iran will respond to the assassination with terror attacks in the north or overseas. Following Musawi's assassination in 1992, Mughniyah responded with the attack on the Jewish center in Buenos Aires.