An official from the Abdullah Azzam Brigades took responsibility for today’s rocket attacks on northern Israel from Lebanon. Sirajuddin Zurayqat, who has appeared in previous media releases from the jihadist group, said in a tweet that fighters from the group’s Ziad Jarrah Battalions were responsible for firing four rockets from Lebanon towards Israel.
The range of the rockets, Zurayqat claimed in another tweet, “is more than 40km, meaning that the responsibility of Iran’s party [Hezbollah] in guarding the Jews will become a difficult mission.”
The Israel Defense Forces originally said three of the rockets failed to reach Israeli territory, while one was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system between the northern cities of Nahariya and Acre. A few hours after the initial assessment, however, an IDF spokesman told the Long War Journal that three rockets had in fact struck Israeli territory, one in an open area and two in residential areas.
The spokesman also confirmed that Iron Dome had successfully intercepted one of the four rockets from Lebanon. In late June, Israeli authorities deployed an Iron Dome battery to the northern city of Haifa.
Israeli officials have said that their “initial assessment” is that “terrorists linked to the Global Jihad movement were responsible for the rocket attacks from Lebanon.” IDF officials have also suggested that the rockets were fired from a Lebanese village south of Tyre.
Images and video from kibbutz Gesher Haziv in northern Israel appear to show remnants of one of the rockets in a residential area. Israeli authorities have been seen cordoning off the areas that were struck.
Commenting on today’s incident, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated: “Anyone who harms us should know and anyone who tries to harm us should know we will harm them back.” Thus far the IDF has not responded to the attack, an IDF spokesman said.
The Abdullah Azzam Brigades have previously claimed responsibility for rocket attacks from Lebanon on Sept. 11, 2009 and Oct. 27, 2009, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.
In May this year, at least one rocket was reportedly fired from Lebanon towards Israel, Reuters reported. According to the Jerusalem Post, searches conducted by Israeli authorities at the time failed to find any rocket remnants within Israeli territory.
Abdullah Azzam Brigades
The Abdullah Azzam Brigades was formed by Saleh al Qarawi sometime after 2004 as an offshoot of al Qaeda in Iraq, and was tasked with hitting targets in the Levant and throughout the Middle East. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades is named after al Qaeda’s co-founder and Osama bin Laden’s mentor. In May 2012, the group was added to the US’s list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists. In June 2012, the group announced that Majid bin Muhammad al Majid was its “emir.” Majid, a Saudi citizen, is on Saudi Arabia’s list of 85 most-wanted individuals for links to al Qaeda, which was released in 2009.
The US State Department has said that the group “is responsible for numerous indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians.” In addition to the rocket fire from Lebanon noted by the State Dept., the group has also claimed responsibility for rockets fired from Gaza into Israel on multiple occasions.
The Abdullah Azzam Brigades releases propaganda on a routine basis. Over the past three years, the group has advocated for the overthrow of the Saudi government and called for an uprising in Lebanon, as well as voiced support for Syrian protesters. The terror group also released a statement immediately after the death of al Qaeda emir Osama bin Laden in May 2011.
“May Allah have mercy on Osama, the Sheikh of Jihad, the Imam of Piety, the example of asceticism and the model of patience, the pioneer of glory in this age, and the awakener of the Ummah from its slumber,” the group said, in a statement translated by the SITE Intelligence Group. The terror group also explained that it had been formed “after incitation” by bin Laden. “We in the Brigades of Abdullah Azzam bear witness that we only went out for jihad after incitation from Sheikh Osama bin Laden, by his words and his actions. He is the one enacted among the people of the time, the tradition to invade infidels in their homes, and created a front to fight the Jews and the Crusaders,” the statement said at the time.
More recently, on Aug. 17, Sirajuddin Zurayqat offered a eulogy in video posted to jihadist forums for former deputy leader of al Qaeda in the Arabia Peninsula Said al Shihri, who was confirmed dead by AQAP on July 16.
Additionally, the group has expressed strong disdain for Hezbollah’s role in the ongoing Syrian civil war. In a recent statement, Majid bin Muhammad al Majid, a leader in the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, called on Sunnis to fight Hezbollah and its interests, which he deemed “legitimate targets.”