Emir of Abdullah Azzam Brigades detained in Lebanon
Majid bin Muhammad al Majid, from the Saudi Interior Ministry's list of 85 most-wanted terrorists.
Lebanese security forces have captured Majid bin Muhammad al Majid, a Saudi jihadist who leads the al Qaeda-associated Abdullah Azzam Brigades, according to reports. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades has stepped up attacks against Hezbollah for its involvement in the Syrian civil war.
Majid was reportedly detained on or before Dec. 29, according to Reuters, but the circumstances of his capture were not disclosed. US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal said that Majid is thought to be in Lebanese custody and was detained in early December.
The Abdullah Azzam Brigades has not released an official statement confirming or denying that its emir is in custody.
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 Abdullah Azzam Brigades was formed by Saleh al Qarawi, who was close to former al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi. The two fought together in Fallujah (presumably in the two battles in 2004). Sometime after 2004, Qarawi was ordered by Zarqawi to form the Abdullah Azzam Brigades. The group, which is named after al Qaeda's co-founder and Osama bin Laden's mentor, was tasked with hitting targets in the Levant and throughout the Middle East.
In June 2012, Qarawi was reportedly detained by the Saudi government after returning to his home country to receive medical treatment for injuries received in a US drone strike that year in Pakistan's Waziristan region.
The Abdullah Azzam Brigades is known to have conducted attacks in Lebanon and Israel, and off the coast of Oman. A group with the same name has also claimed credit for attacks in Egypt and Pakistan. The US government added the Abdullah Azzam Brigades to list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists in May 2012.
At the outset of the Syrian civil war, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades urged caution against conducting attacks in major cities, such as suicide bombings and IED blasts, that might turn Syrians against the revolution, "because preserving the popularity of the revolution is more important and constant for the work."
As Hezbollah increased its support for the Assad regime, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades encouraged Muslims to join the jihad.
In 2013, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades began attacking Hezbollah targets inside Lebanon as the Iranian proxy began sending thousands of fighters into Syria. On Nov. 21, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed credit for the suicide attack outside the Iranian embassy in Beirut that killed 23 people, including Iran's cultural attache.
"First: All the elements of the party of Iran [Hezbollah] must withdraw from Syria," an Abdullah Azzam Brigades spokesman said on Twitter. He also demanded that the Lebanese government "release our prisoners from the prisons of injustice in Lebanon."
For more information on the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, its leaders, and its involvement in the global jihad, see LWJ reports:
- Abdullah Azzam Brigades claims credit for attack on Iranian embassy
- Online jihadists discuss fate of al Qaeda operative held by Saudi Arabia
- Abdullah Azzam Brigades names leader, advises against attacks in Syria's cities
- US adds Abdullah Azzam Brigades to list of terror groups
- US adds Abdullah Azzam Brigades commander to terrorist list
- US adds Abdullah Azzam Brigades explosives expert to terror list