A leaked NSA document put Israel behind the 2008 assassination of the Syrian military officer in charge of transferring weapons to Hezbollah and running the al-Kibar nuclear facility in Syria.

A leaked National Security Agency (NSA) document said Israel was behind the 2008 assassination of Syrian Brigadier General Muhammad Sulayman. Sulayman played a major role in transferring weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon as well as in Syria’s nuclear program. At the time, it was thought that Sulayman was killed by the Syrian elites for political reasons.

If the US intelligence report is true, it would have been the second alleged Israeli assassination within Syria that year. In February 2008, Hezbollah international operations chief Imad Mughniyeh was killed in a car bombing. Sulayman was killed 11 months after the alleged Israeli bombing of al-Kibar nuclear facility in Deir ez-Zor. He was reportedly in charge of the nuclear facility’s construction.

Sulayman was hosting a dinner party at a beach resort near Tartous when he was shot. The pro-Hezbollah newspaper, As-Safir, claimed that alleged Mossad spy Ali Jarrah had confessed to scouting out points near Tartous on behalf of Israel. A Wikileaks cable uncovered in 2011, however, quoted French diplomats as believing that the death was a “mafia-like hit” due to an internal power struggle among the Syrian elite or because he knew too much about Syria’s nuclear program and its ties to Hezbollah.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad further contributed to the murkiness surrounding the assassination by keeping Sulayman’s death a secret for four days. When it was revealed that the general had somehow accumulated $80 million in wealth, the investigation into his assassination turned into a probe of his finances and, by extension, his loyalty to Assad.

The theory that Israel was behind the assassination gained renewed interest this week following a report by The Intercept, a publication dedicated to exposing government and corporate secrets. The article produced a page from Intellipedia, a wiki for the American intelligence community, citing a leaked diplomatic cable that stated he was shot by “Israeli naval commandos” and that this was “the first known instance of Israel targeting a legitimate government official.” The information was gathered by monitoring communication signals.

“We’ve had access to Israeli military communications for some time,” a former US intelligence officer told The Intercept. He noted that knowledge within the NSA about surveillance on the Israeli military is sensitive due to cooperation between the NSA and Israeli intelligence.

NSA refused to comment on the report. The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office did not respond to requests for comments.

By: Sara Abramowicz, United with Israel