Today under Executive Order 13224, the US State Department added Suleiman Hamad Al Hablain, an explosives expert for the Lebanon-based Abdullah Azzam Brigades, to the list of specially designated global terrorists. The designation allows the US to freeze his assets and prohibits others from engaging in financial transactions with him.
Al Hablain, who is also known as Abu Jabal, is described by State as “an explosives expert and operative for the Abdullah Azzam Brigades.” He is a Saudi citizen and is on the list of 85-most-wanted terrorists that has been issued by the Saudi Interior Ministry. On that list, he is listed second and is identified as Ibrahim Suleiman Hamad al Hablain.
State described the Abdullah Azzam Brigades as “a Lebanese militant organization” that has conducted rocket attacks against Israel. In April 2011, the group said it launched Grad rockets against the southern Israeli city of Askelon as well as homemade rockets against the Zekim military base. It also claimed responsibility for the attack against the M Star, a Japanese oil tanker traveling off the coast of Oman from Qatar to Japan.
The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which is named after al Qaeda’s co-founder and Osama bin Laden’s mentor, releases propaganda on a routine basis. Over the past two 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 terror group said in a statement that was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group. The group also said it formed “after incitement” 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.
Groups calling themselves the Abdullah Azzam Brigade have also claimed attacks in Egypt and Pakistan. It is unclear if the groups are linked.
Both the Abdullah Azzam Brigades and Tawhid and Jihad claimed they had carried out the July 2005 bombings in Sharm al Sheikh, Egypt that killed 88 people and wounded 150 more. The bombings occurred at cafes and markets frequented by foreigners in the Red Sea resort town
A group calling itself the Abdullah Azzam Brigade claimed credit for the June 2009 suicide assault on the Pearl Continental Hotel in a high-security zone in Peshawar, Pakistan. A spokesman named Amir Muawiya claimed credit and said the Taliban and al Qaeda shura directed that all future strikes would be claimed by this group. Amir Muawiya is a leader in the Commander Tariq Group, a Taliban faction based out of Darra Adam Khel.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.