FILE - Israeli navy soldiers from the "Shayetet 13" unit- the naval special forces unit of the Israeli Navy, seen during a relay race training session in the water on October 01, 2014. Photo by IDF SPokesperson/FLASH90
FILE – Israeli navy soldiers from the “Shayetet 13” unit- the naval special forces unit of the Israeli Navy, seen during a relay race training session in the water on October 01, 2014. Photo by IDF SPokesperson/FLASH90


Jerusalem – In a scene that could have been written for the the silver screen, in 2008, Israeli naval commandos reportedly infiltrated the waters near Tartus, Syria and eliminated a top Syrian general during a dinner-party held at his seaside villa.

According to a National Security Agency document leaked by the organization’s ex-contractor, Edward Snowden, responsibility for the operation that cut short Muhammad Suleiman’s festive evening with shots to the head and neck, lies squarely with Israel’s elite amphibious special forces, ‘Shayetet 13.’

If true, the leak puts to rest seven-years of speculation that abounded with theories, including postulations that implicated competing figures within the Syrian government.

While both the NSA and the Prime Minister’s Office kept mum on the issue when asked, sources for The Intercept, a site created by journalist Glenn Greenwald to report on Snowden’s leaks, claimed that the US has long had ears inside Israel’s espionage circles.

“We’ve had access to Israeli military communications for some time,” a former US intelligence official said.

The original leak confirmed this claim, asserting that the NSA’s internal “Intellipedia” not only traced the assassination back to “Israeli naval commandos”, but knew enough about their past activities to confidently call the mission the “first known instance of Israel targeting a legitimate government official.”

The late brigadier-general, a close aide to Syrian President Bashar Assad, had multiple reasons for winding up in Israel’s cross-hairs.

Firstly, Suleiman was reported to have been charged with the development and security of Syria’s Ali Kibar nuclear facility, a site left defunct by an airstrike attributed by foreign press to Israel. However, the more likely reason for the lethal visit to Suleiman’s home was the general’s apparent role in the armament and training of Hezbollah by Iran.

According to another leaked document, this one belonging to the US State Department, General Suleiman was flush with cash, the provenance of which remains unclear.

In the investigation after his death, the Syrian government discovered some $80 million stashed in the General’s home. “[Assad] was said to be devastated by the discovery.” The Syrian President, wary of Suleiman’s treachery, then “redirected the investigation from solving his murder to finding out how the general had acquired so much money.”

It remains unclear if Suleiman had siphoned off the money for personal use, or if it was related to Tehran’s funding of the Lebanese Shi’ite militia. In any case statements by the group’s chief, Hassan Nasrallah, revealed the importance of the General to Hezbollah’s cause. The assassination was “linked” to Suleiman’s role in the 2006 conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, Nasrallah had told journalists last year, prior to the emergence of the leak.

The Intercept’s sources acknowledged the link between Suleiman and Israel’s summer 2006 incursion into Lebanon.

“For them it’s not only payback, but mitigates future operations,” said one retired US intelligence officer who worked with Israeli officials, possibly at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, where Israel has liaison personnel working with the intelligence agency.

“They will take a target of opportunity if it presents itself.”

As reported by Vos Iz Neias