‘Ghosts Of Beirut’ Episode 2 Recap & Review: What Happens To Station Officer William Buckley?

The second episode of the spine-chilling true story of a manhunt for one of the deadliest terrorists, Ghosts of Beirut, was released today. Previously, we’d been introduced to Lebanese local Imad Mughniyeh, who took it to heart to rid his country of Israeli and American presence by orchestrating suicide bomber attacks. After a suicide bomber drove a truck to the US Embassy and killed CIA operative Robert Ames, among others, the US government started taking the Lebanese situation seriously. However, poor decisions and a lack of planning were to lead to far more damage to the mission and CIA’s integrity, as we’re to see in this week’s episode of Ghosts of Beirut.


Spoilers Ahead

Who Was William Buckley?

Showtime miniseries have proven that bad decisions have become synonymous with intelligence organization chiefs when faced with threats and terrorists. After Waco, where the ATF and FBI sent tanks to mow down a compound full of women and children in Waco, Texas, in 1992, Showtime’s latest, Ghosts of Beirut, shows just how haphazard and distraught the operations were at the CIA. Beirut’s newest addition to the CIA team, Chet Riley, arrives in the country in turmoil and is met with station officer William Buckley. The suavely dressed former Green Beret William Buckley takes the lead in investigating the terrorists who caused the blast at the US Embassy in Beirut. Buckley learns from a Shia chief named Abu Hassan that an imam named Sheikh Fadlallah is believed to be the Islamic Jihad’s spiritual leader. Buckley also forces Hassan to give him the name of the contact they use for information and takes Chet to meet him.


How Does Imad Mughniyeh Continue Spreading Terror?

Codenamed Alpha, this informant lets the two CIA men know that a truck full of explosives will be headed for the makeshift US Embassy the CIA is using for now and adds that the leader of the Islamic Jihad in Beirut is called Radwan. After scouring the whole of Beirut, Chet and his partner Steve can’t find any explosive-laden trucks, so they go to sleep, only to be woken by the sounds of explosions. Instead of the US Embassy, Radwan, aka Imad Mughniyeh, targeted the Marines and the center that housed French troops this time. That same evening, news about explosions at the US Embassy in Kuwait and six more locations around Kuwait reached the CIA. Imad had sent his brother-in-law Mustafa to the foreign country, despite his repeated objections to carrying out Imad’s plans of terrorism. The US pulled out all its marine troops and every other stationed officer, although the CIA team agreed to stay. As it turns out, the Islamic Jihad’s plans had hit the nerve of the US government, and they were hightailing it out of this foreign country, ready to abandon their peacekeeping plans.

Who Is Imad Mughniyeh?

Steve runs into Buckley’s office to inform him that the 17 bombers of Kuwait have been captured, including a Lebanese local. Unbeknownst to them, this Lebanese local is Imad’s brother-in-law and Saada’s brother, Mustafa, and the sister is losing her mind worrying about her brother. A series of kidnappings of Americans in and around Beirut begins as a countermeasure to get the Kuwaiti government to release Mustafa. Meanwhile, Alpha is brought in again for a fresh round of questioning, and he finally gives in and informs the CIA that the leader is called Imad Mughniyeh, but nobody has seen him. Even after searching every public record, Chet doesn’t find any picture of Imad, but by a stroke of luck, he finds an image of a kid from the slums, and that’s their guy. Now 21 years old, Imad Mughniyeh is orchestrating terror attacks across Lebanon because he’s on a mission to liberate the nation of foreign presence. 


Why Was William Buckley Kidnapped?

On a March morning in 1984, William Buckley is kidnapped by Imad’s men and held in a non-disclosed location. News about the announcement of the death sentence for the 17 bombers reaches Saada, and she’s furious at her husband for sending her brother to death. She also lets him know that she’s pregnant. Imad demands that Buckley make a tape asking the US Government to release Mustafa, but he refuses, and soon after, Alpha arrives to hand a tape to Chet and Steve, showcasing Buckley’s proof of life. It was Imad himself who’d handed Alpha the tape, so it’s obvious that he had seen Abu Dukhan, the Father of Smoke, a name Imad has fashioned for himself. Chet demands to know about Buckley’s location, and Alpha keeps mum, so the unassuming and timid Chet punches and kicks the messenger bloody in rage. The video is disturbing: the terrorists put an electric drill in Buckley’s joints, virtually paralyzing him. Flying into a fit of rage and frustrated by the lack of action by the CIA HQ at Langley, Chet charters a taxi to Baalbek. He couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that the CIA didn’t want to hear his theories about the connections between Lebanon and Iran.

Chet’s taxi driver refuses to take him all the way toward Baalbek, so he clicks pictures of a guarded fortress in the distance. In Cyprus, CIA Officer Dewey dismisses Chet’s pleas to explore the Iranian link and understand that Mughniyeh is working for Asgari and Pur, the Iranians who are providing the capital for Imad’s terrorism. Instead, Dewey throws the news in Chet’s face that this is now being handled by the counterterrorism department, despite Chet repeating that this will severely impact Buckley’s chances of making it out alive.


Why Does Chet Begin Panicking?

On March 15, 1985, Chet comes to the US Embassy to learn that Dewey is in Beirut, and he immediately knows what’s about to go down. The extremely crowded roads cannot be navigated, and shivering with panic, Chet uses his satellite phone to contact the CIA Director to inform him how disastrous their operation is going to be, but the Director hangs up. The operation in question is probably on par with the FBI sending a tank at women and children a few years later in Waco, Texas. Convinced that Sayed Fadlallah is the one orchestrating all the terrorism in Beirut, Dewey plans to take him out inside the mosque where he recently opened a school. As Chet abandons the car and starts running towards the mosque, Dewey informs the Lebanese officer that their mission is a go after spotting Fadlallah walking with a man as the mosque teems with women and children.

What Happens To Station Officer William Buckley?

At the mosque, Imad thanks Fadlallah for getting his brother Haidar a job at the mosque, and he’s making his way towards Haidar through the crowd of mothers catering to their children when Dewey’s plan is executed. An enormous explosion rocks the entire place of worship, and Imad finds himself disoriented and bloody as the scattered screams of the injured start reaching him. People are frantically running around as smoke and dust cover the scene. An unknown number of people have been killed, and many more are to follow. Imad runs towards a downed man, starts shaking his brother Haidar, and quickly breaks down; Haidar is dead. Chet drives to a deserted location, and a van crosses him, with Alpha eyeing the man who’d beaten him bloody, as the van drops a body. Chet unwraps the shroud to find the cold body of the deceased CIA Station Chief, William Buckley, inside.


William Buckley was murdered by the terrorists after the CIA blew up the mosque, killing so many innocents, to take down someone they wrongly suspected as the leader of the Jihadists. Chet had repeatedly warned that Buckley’s life would be threatened if the CIA went ahead with their plans, but if these intelligence organizations were to heed reason before everything went south, half the problems would disappear. Instead, they chose to fight fire with fire, one that burns the innocents. Instead of taking a sniper to kill their target, they chose to bomb a crowded mosque, killing an unknown number of people, and this led to Imad firing back by murdering Buckley. The station chief died because the CIA operatives were too blockheaded to listen to Chet’s warnings, and who knows how many more will be killed now that the CIA blew up a mosque? The irony of all this is that the one person who was actually behind all the bombings, Imad Mughniyeh, survived the explosion while countless innocents died; thus is the travesty of the world, where innocents die, and evil incarnate like Imad survive to wreak further havoc on the world.

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Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh has a master's degree in English literature from Calcutta University and a passion for all things in cinema. He loves writing about the finer aspects of cinema, although he is also an equally big fan of webseries and anime. In his free time, Indrayudh loves playing video games and reading classic novels.

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Showtime's latest, Ghosts of Beirut, shows just how haphazard and distraught the operations were at the CIA. Beirut's newest addition to the CIA team, Chet Riley, arrives in the country in turmoil and is met with station officer William Buckley. 'Ghosts Of Beirut' Episode 2 Recap & Review: What Happens To Station Officer William Buckley?