The Lebanese Army on Wednesday arrested one of the leaders of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Abdullah Azzam Brigades in Beirut, according to media reports.
A Wednesday military statement said terrorist Naim Abbas was arrested after intensive surveillance and was being interrogated.
According to The Daily Star, A high-ranking security source described Abbas as a “leading figure” in the Al-Qaeda-linked group that claimed responsibility for last year’s suicide bombings outside Iran’s Embassy in Beirut. Thirty people, including an Iranian diplomat, were killed in the Nov. 19 attack.
The Army said Abbas, who it described as a “terrorist,” was under close surveillance ever since reports emerged of his involvement in preparing and detonating car bombs.
Security sources said Abbas was arrested in the Afif al-Tibeh neighborhood near Corniche Mazraa.
"After careful follow-up and monitoring, the (army) intelligence directorate in Beirut arrested the terrorist Naim Abbas, a commander of the Abdullah Azzam brigades," the army said in the statement, according to AFP.
Lebanese forces dismantled the car bomb containing 100 kilograms of explosives in Beirut’s Corniche al-Mazraa on Wednesday morning, as well as another one in the Bekaa Valley, an army statement said.
The leader of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, Saudi national Majed al-Majed, was arrested in early January by the Lebanese army. He died days later, allegedly from poor health.
Abbas’ name emerged following last month’s arrest of Jamal Daftardar, a commander in Abdullah Azzam Brigades. Daftardar, who was considered the main candidate to take over the leadership of the group after the death of al-Majid, was arrested during a raid in the Bekaa Valley town of Kamed al-Loz.
Abbas' detention also follows the indictment of a sheikh, Omar Ibrahim al-Atrash, in connection with two suicide bombings in southern Beirut that killed at least six people.
In a late January army statement on Atrash, the army had said Abbas was among three "wanted men" loyal to the Abdullah Azzam brigades and the al-Nusra Front, Syria's al-Qaeda branch.
In recent months, Lebanon has seen a string of deadly attacks linked to Syria's war, claimed by al-Qaeda-linked groups including the Abdullah Azzam brigades.
Though Lebanon is officially neutral in Syria's conflict, the country is deeply divided over the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad.
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