Last updated: 2 January, 2014

Saudi hails Lebanon arrest of Al Qaeda-linked suspect

Saudi Arabia has hailed Lebanon’s arrest of a Saudi who is the suspected leader of a group linked to Al-Qaeda, a pan-Arab daily Thursday quoted Riyadh’s ambassador to Beirut as saying.

Majid al-Majid is the suspected chief of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which claimed it carried out a deadly November 19 double suicide bombing at Iran’s Beirut embassy that killed 25 people.

Majid “is a terrorist who attacked his own country before attacking the Iranian embassy. The monarchy has been searching for him long before he staged this,” Ambassador Ali Awad Assiri told Al-Hayat.

“He has been wanted by the Saudi courts for a long time,” Assiri said.

The envoy also said Saudi Arabia “had informed all states that he was wanted.

“Should DNA tests prove the person detained is indeed Majid, we will be pleased with the arrest.”

The report comes a day after a Lebanese minister said Majid had been arrested by the army’s intelligence services and was being interrogated “in secret.”

Officials later said the suspect’s DNA was being tested to remove any doubt over his identity.

Meanwhile, the Iranian embassy in Beirut asked on Thursday to be involved in the investigation into the double suicide bombing.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour told AFP he had received a note from the Iranian embassy in Beirut that included “a request for access to the current investigation with Majid al-Majid, with him being one of the suspects in the explosion that targeted the embassy.”

He said he would raise the request with the relevant authorities.

The Abdullah Azzam Brigades group was designated in the United States in 2012 as a “terrorist organisation.”

The group was formed in 2009 and is believed to have branches in both the Arabian Peninsula and Lebanon.

The Lebanese unit is named after Ziad al-Jarrah, a Lebanese who took part in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

It has sporadically fired rockets into northern Israel, and the Brigades also claimed responsibility for the 2010 bombing attack of a Japanese oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.

It is named for the Palestinian mentor of the late Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. He was killed in a 1989 bomb blast.

According to Islamist sites, Majid was revealed to be the leader of the Brigades in 2012.

On Wednesday, a Twitter account belonging to Sirajeddin Zreikat, a member of the Brigades, appeared to have been suspended.

Zreikat had claimed responsibility in the group’s name for the Iranian embassy bombing.

That attack came amid rising tension in Lebanon over the role of the Iran-backed Shiite movement Hezbollah in the war in neighbouring Syria.

Hezbollah and Iran are allied with the Syrian regime, and it has dispatched fighters to battle the uprising alongside government forces.

In claiming the embassy bombing, Zreikat warned of more attacks in Lebanon if Hezbollah kept sending troops to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In 2009, Lebanon sentenced Majid in absentia to life in prison for belonging to a different extremist group, the Al-Qaeda-inspired Fatah al-Islam.