A matter of history


Last updated 2/27/2024 at 10:18am

The Three Sisters Historical Society packed the Sisters Fire Hall Community Room last Sunday for a presentation by Larry Len Peterson on the legendary photographer of Native Americans, Edward S. Curtis. Peterson, a Sisters resident, is the author of a magnificent study of Curtis, titled “Printing the Legends: Looking At Shadows In A West Lit Only By Fire.”

Last week, we published Maret Pajutee’s wonderful account of the wild times and violent demise of Sisters pioneer Tillman Glaze — and lots of folks have contacted us to let us know how much they enjoyed the tale. This week, we follow the trail of the Hitchcock family, pioneers in the lumber trade in Sisters Country. And we turn the Education Spotlight on Sisters Middle School teacher Deb Riehle, who is introducing eighth graders to the story of how their country came to be what it is today.

All of this warms the cockles of a history-lover’s heart.

I have been besotted by history for as long as I can remember. Early on, history was just a repository of tales of grand adventures for me. And it still is that. It’s also a means of navigating the world — both map and compass, a way of determining where we are, how we got here, and where we may be headed.

In recent weeks, I have been following the trail of the elusive and deadly terrorist Imad Mughniyeh. A senior man in Hezbollah, he was a deadly enemy of the U.S. and Israel.

Filling this trail has kicked up insight into the evolution of the conditions that have the Middle East embroiled in the worst spasm of violence it has seen in decades. And, as always, it reminds us that history — life — is complicated.

Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 to run the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) out of their haven. The invasion threw Lebanon — already embroiled in a terrible civil war — into even deeper crisis. One might assume that then-President Ronald Reagan was an unabashed cheerleader for Israel — but he was not. He wanted Israel out of Lebanon. When, in a private phone call, he told Israeli Prime Minister Menachim Begin that Israel was creating a “holocaust” in its siege of the city of Beirut, Begin went ballistic. Relations between the U.S. and Israel were as strained as they have ever been.

Reagan sent in the Marines, hoping they could act as peacekeepers and settle the situation down. But Americans were not perceived as peacemakers by the growing Shia Muslim resistance movement in Lebanon — backed by the new Iranian revolutionary government. Enter Imad Mughniyeh — an angry young man with exceptional ability and ambition to hurt the Israelis and Americans. He made it his life’s work.

Mughniyeh planned and executed operations in Lebanon that included the suicide bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 that killed 241 American military personnel, 58 French military personnel, and six civilians. Likewise the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Lebanon, and the kidnapping and torture death of CIA station chief William Buckley.

As Politico reported: “His hand touched Hezbollah plots from Germany to Kuwait and from Argentina to Thailand.”

In Argentina, his fingerprints were on the bombings of the Israeli Embassy (1992) and a 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center – an especially nasty piece of work.

The Times of Israel notes that: “Before 9/11, Imad Mughniyeh was responsible for killing more Americans than anyone else in the world.”

He had a hand in killing Americans after 9/11, too. He facilitated the campaign of IED attacks on American troops in the darkest days of the Iraq War, when Iran was providing explosively formed projectile (EFP) devices to its proxy militias in Iraq.

U.S. intelligence cooperated with Mossad to take him out with a shaped charge in a vehicle in Damascus, Syria, in 2008.

Understanding this fascinating — and troubling — story helps us understand what is happening now. This tale is very well told in “Ghosts of Beirut,” a four-part limited series that weaves a tapestry out of dramatic storytelling, archival footage, news broadcasts, and interviews with a range of Middle East experts.

Track it down. It’ll help you map the territory in which we must move.

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

Author photo

Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit www.frontierpartisans.com.


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