Lebanon IDs commander of terrorist group
BEIRUT — DNA tests confirmed that a man in government custody is the alleged leader of an al-Qaida-linked group that has conducted attacks across the Middle East before shifting its focus to Syria's civil war, Lebanese authorities said on Friday.
The suspected militant, Majid al-Majid, is the purported commander of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades and one of the 85 most-wanted individuals in his native Saudi Arabia. The State Department designated the group a foreign terrorist organization in 2012, freezing any assets it holds in the United States and banning Americans from doing business with the group.
The brigades have claimed responsibility for attacks throughout the region, including the 2010 bombing of a Japanese oil tanker in the Persian Gulf and several rocket strikes from Lebanon into Israel. The most recent attack claimed by the group was the double suicide bombing in November outside the Iranian Embassy in Beirut.
Reports first surfaced in Lebanon early this week that authorities had detained al-Majid. Security officials eventually confirmed that they had a suspect in custody, but said they were not certain of his identity.
Lebanese and Saudi officials said DNA samples taken from the suspect would be checked against al-Majid's relatives in Saudi Arabia, and the Lebanese army said that tests established the detainee was indeed al-Majid. Lebanese officials still have not disclosed when or where he was taken into custody, and his location has not been made public.
The biggest winners from his arrest may be Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Lebanese ally Hezbollah, who have been the main focus of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades since al-Majid took the reins of the group in mid-2012, said Mustafa Alani, the director of the security department at the Geneva-based Gulf Research Center.
The group was a relatively small outfit under its previous leader, Saleh al-Qarawi, Alani said. Al-Majid, who is believed to have serious kidney problems that require dialysis, managed to build it into a larger player.
“It's become much bigger. Majid al-Majid was able to recruit a lot of Iraqis, Syrians, Lebanese,” Alani said. “He's more active, and far more clever than Qarawi.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Mexican cartel kingpin busted
- China again boosts military spending by double digits
- Deal ‘paves Iran’s path’ to nukes, Netanyahu says
- Afghan forces hit by loss of numbers
- Israeli airstrikes on Gaza homes killed civilians, Palestinians say
- Double bomb blasts kill 34 in Nigeria city
- U.S. says China preps more ship, airfield stations
- Prominent Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov shot dead
- Stone Age Britons got wheat from trade route
- Al-Qaida-linked fighters seize rebel bases in Syria
- Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu expected to confront Obama on Iran