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Middle east

Lebanon arrests alleged al Qaeda-linked militant

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-01-01

Lebanese security forces have arrested Majid bin Muhammad al-Majid, leader of the al Qaeda-linked group that claimed the deadly attack on the Iranian embassy in Beirut in November, according to local and international reports.

Majid, the so-called "emir" of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, "was arrested by the intelligence services of the Lebanese army in Beirut," Defence Minister Fayez Ghosn told AFP on Tuesday.

Local news reports said the alleged militant had been taken into custody two days ago.

"He was wanted by the Lebanese authorities and is currently being interrogated in secret," Minister Ghosn added.

US national security sources speaking under condition of anonymity told Reuters that the Lebanese reports of the arrest were “credible”, but there were no further details about the circumstances of the arrest.

Majid, a Saudi national, is also one of the kingdom’s most wanted fugitives for his alleged ties with al Qaeda.

More attacks to come?

The Azzam Brigades, designated in the United States as a "terrorist organisation" in 2012, claimed responsibility for the double suicide bombing at the Iranian diplomatic mission in Beirut six weeks ago that killed 25 people.

The Brigades have warned of more attacks in Lebanon if the Iran-allied Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah keep sending troops to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime in its war on Sunni-led rebels.

Forces loyal to Assad are fighting a bitter and bloody war against different rebel factions, which include Islamist extremists with links to al Qaeda.

Reports said Majid had been hiding for several years in the Ain al-Helweh Palestinian camp in southern Lebanon before leaving for Syria at an undetermined date.

"He left the camp with five Saudis and Kuwaitis and they went to Syria. We didn't know that he had returned to Lebanon," a Palestinian official at the camp told AFP.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, Reuters)

Date created : 2014-01-01

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