Ghosts of Beirut – Season 1 Episode 3 “Damascus” Recap and Review


Episode 3 of Ghosts of Beirut begins from the 2007 timeline when we saw the incident in Karbala. Lena, who was at the time interviewing Asgari, the Deputy Minister from Iran, becomes the protagonist in this episode. But before we reach that year, we hear from real-life experts about how Imad established his brand of terror across decades. Many instances through the late 1900s are cited to show Imad wanted “not to be seen but be known.” He killed “more Americans than anyone in the world” and they were desperate to catch him.

Imad is hiding in Bogota, Colombia. Mustafa, Saada’s brother, is still with him, although Haider, Imad’s brother, lost his life at episode 2’s end. He asks Mustafa to take a boat to Cotonou and move money to Beirut “the usual way.” This may refer to a hawala transfer wherein the source of the money cannot be tracked. Imad is himself going to Iraq to meet with Qassem Sulemani, an important figure in Iran’s Islamic Revolution. We once again see the Karbala incident play out but from a different perspective.

Daqduq, Imad’s right-hand operative, informs him that the Americans have blocked the border to Iran. Somehow, their communications systems worked and they were able to coordinate. Imad is furious and squarely blames Daqduq for the mess up. He asks the Americans to be killed, who were later found by Lena and her team. Experts flagged how Syria was a “safe haven” for Imad and his activities. The country was out of depression and he was protected there. It was like a neutral zone.

Sulemani viewed Imad as a strong leader. They together saw themselves as the face of Shia in the middle east. They wanted to execute coups of Shia majority groups in many places including Lebanon through Hezbollah. At the meet, Sulemani represents his anguish over the mess up and wants Daqduq to “be taken care of.” Asgari gives up Daqduq’s location during Lena’s interrogation. He is currently in Basra, as Imad alluded to Sulemani before. Sulemani and Imad are not too worried about Asgari joining hands with the CIA. They believe he won’t tell them too revealing details.

We switch our attention to Tel Aviv, where Mossad has made significant progress in its pursuit of Imad. Their new technology, SIGINT, has worked wonders. Teddy, a high-level operative who has seemingly retired from fieldwork, is asked to cooperate with the Americans in a joint mission to nail Mughniyeh. Mossad has established a “star trail,” a group of Imad’s close aides, and knows a general location of him. Meir, Teddy’s boss, insists he is present in the mission as he has a history of working well with the CIA.

The Americans pick up Daqduq and bring him in for interrogation. Imad meets a businesswoman, Wafa, who owns a clothing store in Damascus. He is flattered by her and it is revealed that his marriage with Saada is only limited to the nature of the bond. Meir wants Teddy to find out more about Lena. He is unsure of how easily the Americans got Daqduq’s whereabouts, and Lena’s background – her Lebanese lineage and a cousin working with Hezbollah – raise doubts. She might be a double agent. Teddy is sent to Iraq, where the Americans are holding Daqduq.

Saada stays with her children, Wissam and Fatima in Beirut. She expresses her concerns about their children on the phone with Imad. Mossad listens to their conversations and has been doing it for years. But they are yet to ascertain what signal he gives Saada before meeting them. Imad does a background check on Wafa, which comes out to be clean. He pursues her, romantically, but doesn’t tell her the truth about his identity. During Daqduq’s interrogation, Lena is frustrated as he isn’t asked about his link to Imad. They are more focused on the Karbala attack.

Teddy calls her and offers his help with Daqduq. In return, he wants information about how they got him. A deal is struck and Teddy comes down to Iraq to meet Lena at the CIA base. Sulemani is livid with Imad for his new affair with Wafa and had him followed. When it happens again the same night, Imad lashes out at Sulemani’s men. Wafa is unsure of dating him further until he opens up about his true identity. Teddy lives up to his promise and gets Daqduq to confess Imad ordered the hit in Karbala, and, that he was physically present to oversee it.

He also names Suleimani as being involved with Imad in his mission. As promised, Lena and Teddy exchange information about Imad and Asgari. Now, Mossad knows that Asgari was the source who gave up Daqduq and the CIA knows where Imad is currently. Imad meets Saada and she expresses her dissatisfaction with their relationship. She begins to question if they should remain married and maintain contact for longer. Imad’s best attempts to persuade her do not work.

At Langley, Lena presents her findings to the higher-ups. She requests a “presidential finding” to capture Imad and bring him to US soil for trial. A joint operation is set up in Damascus with Mossad. She requests more assets on the ground to find Imad and the request is granted. For now, the joint team needs to determine the exact place where Imad and Suleimani meet every two weeks. Lena is posing as a real estate researcher to bolster the mission.

The teams will name the dozens of buildings in the neighbourhood codenames for clearer identification. During a field session to cover the buildings under the garb of looking for an apartment, CIA agents are questioned by Syrian intelligence. Lena, despite Teddy’s persuasions, puts herself on the line to handle the situation. Meir informs everyone of the humungous money transfer from Bogota and that Imad might be working on something new.

Imad visits Wafa’s house in Damascus without her invitation. He tells her the entire truth about himself but glorifies himself as a hero. The next morning, he is in for a shock as Wissam calls out of the blue and tells him that they – himself and Saada – are coming to visit him. Imad is livid but has no choice in meeting them. An alert is raised in the CIA-Mossad camp as well. Lena reaches the spot and sees Imad for the first time ever. She clicks photos and the Ghost of Beirut finally has a face. It is not so different from any one of us. And that’s the scary part.

The Episode Review

Episode 3 highlights why Ghosts of Beirut isn’t an instant mass hit. Despite the excruciating work put in by the makers to get every detail right and cover all aspects of Mughniyeh’s decadal pursuit, the narrative is not accessible. In this episode, we moved to at least four different countries and listened to characters talk in as many languages. The combination of these made the episode very complex and raised a need for an explanation like this.

The story, which seemed quite scattered overall, is now heading toward its final leg: Mughniyeh’s apprehension. The ghost remained in the shadows for too long but the moment he got comfortable, he slipped. And the CIA was waiting like a hawk to pounce. This episode was different from others as it did not stretch the violence that spread in Mughniyeh’s wake.

It was more about streamlining the general direction of smart and persistent spy work, which is the essence of this series.

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You can read our full season review for Ghosts of Beirut here!

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