Al Qaeda leaderMajid al-Majid dies in Lebanon

Majid al-Majid, a Saudi man suspected of leading an al Qaeda-linked group died on Saturday in detention in Lebanon from kidney failure.

By Hemant Abhishek | Updated: Jan 04, 2014, 23:44 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

Beirut: Majid al-Majid, a Saudi man suspected of leading an al Qaeda-linked group died on Saturday in detention in Lebanon from kidney failure, reports were quoted as saying.
In a short statement, the Lebanese army said Majid al-Majid "died this morning while undergoing treatment at the central military hospital after his health deteriorated." It did not elaborate.

A Lebanese minister had told that Majid had been arrested by army intelligence and had been held at a secret location.

On Friday, the Lebanese confirmed his identity, following a DNA test.

Majid was believed to have serious kidney problems that require dialysis. He was an important figure, and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades grew from a relatively small outfit to a larger terror group since he took over in mid-2012, after the organization`s previous leader, Saleh al-Qarawi, was gravely wounded in Pakistan.

According to Lebanese newspapers, al-Majid was detained during the last week of December while on his way from Beirut to the eastern Bekaa Valley that borders Syria. The reports said that he was captured while in an ambulance after he had undergone dialysis at a hospital in Beirut.

Saudi Arabia had hailed Majid`s detention, and the Iranian embassy in Beirut had requested access to the investigation into the double suicide bombing.

The attack on the embassy came amid rising tensions in Lebanon over the role of the Tehran-backed Shiite movement Hezbollah in the war in neighbouring Syria.

Hezbollah and Iran are allied with the Syrian regime, and Hezbollah has sent fighters to help battle the Sunni-led insurgency, which is supported by its opponents in Lebanon.

In claiming the embassy bombing, brigades member Sirajeddin Zreikat warned of more attacks in Lebanon if Hezbollah keeps sending troops to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In 2009, Lebanon sentenced Majid in absentia to life in prison for belonging to a different extremist group, the al Qaeda-inspired Fatah al-Islam.

Majidi was the leader of an al Qaeda-linked group that carried out attacks across the Middle East before shifting its focus to Syria`s civil war.

He was also the suspected head of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which claimed responsibility for an attack in November on the Iranian embassy in Beirut that killed 25 people.

The US State Department designated his group a foreign terrorist organization in 2012, freezing any assets it holds in the United States and banning Americans from doing business with the group.

The brigades have claimed responsibility for attacks throughout the region, including the 2010 bombing of a Japanese oil tanker in the Persian Gulf and several rocket strikes from Lebanon into Israel.

Reports first surfaced about his arrest in Lebanon early this week. Security officials eventually confirmed that they had a suspect in custody, but said they were not certain of his identity.

In the spring of 2013, after the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah group announced that it was fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad`s troops against the Syrian rebels, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades began to target Hezbollah as well - and by extension, their Iranian patrons.

On Friday, families of those killed in the Iranian embassy bombing demanded that al-Majid, who had not been charged in the attack, be tried in Lebanon and not be sent to his homeland.