Abdullah Azzam Brigades launches double suicide attack on Iranian cultural center in Beirut

The Abdullah Azzam Brigades has claimed today’s twin suicide attack in the Lebanese capital of Beirut that killed at least five people and wounded more than a dozen. The attack is the second by the al Qaeda-linked group to target Iranian interests since November 2013.

The Abdullah Azzam Brigades released a series of statements in Arabic on its Twitter feed claiming credit for the attack and threatening to execute more if its demands are not met.

“Your brothers in the Brigades of Abdullah Azzam, Battalion of Hussein bin Ali, may Allah be pleased with them both, claim the ‘Invasion of the Iranian Chancellery in Beirut,’ and it is a double martyrdom-seeking operation,” the group said, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.

The al Qaeda-linked group threatened to execute further attacks against “Iran and its party in Lebanon [Hezbollah] in their security, political, and military centers” unless Iran and Hezbollah withdraw from Syria, where they are fighting alongside President Bashar al Assad’s forces. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades also demanded that the Lebanese government free imprisoned jihadists.

The Abdullah Azzam Brigades was established outside of Iraq by one of Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s lieutenants sometime after 2004. The US added the Abdullah Azzam Brigades to its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorist groups in May 2012.

Lebanese forces captured Majid bin Muhammad al Majid, a wanted Saudi jihadist who led the group, in late December 2013. Shortly after he was detained, he died in custody.

Since mid-November, jihadist groups operating in Lebanon have executed five major suicide attacks and car bombings in Lebanon. The al Qaeda groups have advocated attacks in Lebanon that target interests of Iran and Hezbollah, due to their involvement in the Syrian civil war.

The first such attack, and the largest, was executed on Nov. 19, 2013, by the Abdullah Azzam Brigades. In that attack, a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb outside of the Iranian embassy in Beirut and killed 23 people, including Iran’s cultural attache.

On Jan. 14, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham claimed credit for the Jan. 2 car bombing in Beirut that killed four people and wounded more than 70. The attack, which may have been executed by a suicide bomber, took place outside of Hezbollah’s political office in the neighborhood of Haret Hreik.

The ISIS described that attack as occurring “[a]t a time when the security efforts of the Islamic State were able to break the boundaries and penetrate the security system of the Rafidah [Shi’ite] Party of Satan [Hezbollah] in Lebanon, and to crush its strongholds in the heart of its home in what is called the security zone in the southern suburbs of Beirut on Thursday, 30 Safar 1435H [2 January 2014], in a first small payment from the heavy account that is awaiting those wicked criminals…”, according to a statement that was obtained and translated by SITE.

On Jan. 16, an Al Nusrah Front suicide bomber killed five people in an attack near a government building in Hermel during rush hour.

And on Feb. 1, an Al Nusrah Front suicide bomber killed three people in an attack at a gas station in Hermel. Like the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, the Al Nusrah Front has demanded that Iran and Hezbollah withdraw their forces from Syria.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • m3fd2002 says:

    It looks like Hezbollah may have miscalculated on their Syrian intervention, with unintended consequences beginning to appear.

  • Frank Dunn says:

    The Abdullah Azzam Brigades could serve as the cover story for an Israeli assault on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Truck bombs coordinated with cruise missile / air strikes on the 2 to 3 Iranian nuclear processing sites could be blamed on the Sunni terrorists who just attacked Iranian assets in Lebanon. Israel would deny all involvement just as Obama and Kerry have denied our surrender to Iran in the still secret Neville Chamberlain II agreement. Netanyahu could go before the UN to demand that Iran remove its military forces from Syria so that Sunni terrorists stop their attacks on Iran. If anything, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades would relish being able to claim the attacks as their doing, especially if Israel’s air attacks lessen Iran’s support of Syria’s Assad.

  • T2 says:

    Hello Bill,
    Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, of the Iranian al Qaeda. Do you think these guys swap stories? Can you clarify if a Saudi (or any GCC country) supported jihadist is considered by USDoD as al Qaeda?
    2b al Qaeda or not, does it seem like smoke’n mirrors 2u2? Is al Qaeda just a term used to justify action without justice?
    how about the story of Iran planning to send forces into Pakistan after capture of guards. Iran says an armed gang seized the guards about 5 km inside Iran on Feb 6 in the province of Sistan-Baluchistan took them into Pakistan. A Sunni insurgent Iranian group calling itself Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice) claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. Al Qaeda, ISI or CIA?

  • David says:

    Are you kidding me? Al Qaeda membership
    is a very simple thing to understand. They have
    a well-defined leadership, and a well-defined
    membership. You are in Al Qaeda if you follow
    the orders of the leaders of Al Qaeda, if you
    swear bayat to them. If they accept you,
    they give you an employment contract, which
    allows for salary and even vacation time.
    Many of these documents have been captured.
    Any other jihadist or insurgent is not Al Qaeda, and saying so is just an excuse for attempting a phony moral equivalence like the one you are peddling.
    It sounds like this is all a joke to you, as though
    all this talk of terrorism is a scam, like we do the
    same things they do, like all the stories of
    their deliberate targeting of civilians is just
    propaganda. If so, then it would be perfectly safe
    for you to go visit, and prove it.
    Ok, so go. Go to Mali, go to Yemen, go to
    Anbar, go to Syria. Go and show us how reasonable
    your buddies are. Send us a postcard.

  • Infidel2 says:

    Neville Chamberlain II? Please. By all means, let’s continue to smoke our enemies where we can, but to discount diplomacy that may (I repeat may, not necessarily will) prevent the Ayatollahs from gaining the bomb seems foolish. Let’s at least see the deal, if one even emerges, before we dismiss it out of hand. If we can keep the Iranians stuck with a break out capacity that would allow us time to make a move before they could weaponize, I’ll call that success.


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