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.