Last updated: 14 January, 2014

Lebanon Al-Qaeda loyalists vow to continue striking Iran and Israel

A Lebanese group loyal to Al-Qaeda vowed Tuesday to keep up its attacks against Iran, Hezbollah and Israel, less than a fortnight after the death of its leader, Majid al-Majid.

The Saudi-born Majid, whose group claimed responsibility for a November attack on the Iranian embassy in Beirut, died in the custody of Lebanese authorities, who said he was ill before his arrest.

“His project will continue, God willing, in striking Iran, its party (Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah) and the aggressor Jews (Israel), and in defending oppressed Sunnis everywhere,” the Abdallah Azzam Brigades said in an online statement.

The group also lashed out against Lebanon for “arbitrarily detaining” Islamists, and said Lebanese miliary intelligence was under the control of “Iran’s party,” another reference to Hezbollah, which is closely allied with Shiite Iran.

It criticised “attacks against Sunnis orchestrated by Iran’s party, which controls Lebanon’s military intelligence and manipulates it at will.”

It said Iran “manipulates all Lebanese state institutions to protect both its interests and those of its Baathist ally in Syria,” a reference to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

According to a judicial source. Majid died from poor health on January 4, days after he was arrested.

His body was later sent back to his native Saudi Arabia, after the Saudi embassy had expressed relief over his arrest.

The brigades’ statement said Majid was detained while he was “unconscious” and in intensive care.

“The medical devices that were allowing (Majid) to breathe were pulled out, and God had mercy on him and received him as a martyr,” it charged.

The statement was issued to express condolences over the death of Majid, whom it termed the “prince of the Levant, who has gone to meet his God,” and whose passing “has filled (our) hearts with sadness.”

The November attack on the Iranian embassy in Hezbollah’s south Beirut stronghold killed 25 people.

Majid had “directly supervised the preparation of” the twin suicide bombing, the statement said.

The attack came as tensions rose in Lebanon over the role of Hezbollah in the conflict in neighbouring Syria.

Hezbollah publicly confirmed last April that its fighters were supporting Assad’s regime against the Sunni-dominated rebels, who are backed by most Lebanese Sunnis.

Brigades member Sirajeddin Zreikat had already threatened more attacks in Lebanon until Hezbollah ends its intervention.

In 2009, Lebanon handed Majid a life sentence in absentia after convicting him of membership of another Al-Qaeda-inspired group, Fatah al-Islam.