A Lebanese army general says the leader of an al-Qaeda-linked
group that has conducted attacks across the Middle East before shifting its focus to Syria's
civil war has died in custody in Lebanon.
The general says the detainee, Majid al-Majid, died on Saturday after suffering kidney failure. The general spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. Majid's Sunni Islamist militant organization was aligned with the Syrian rebels in direct opposition to Hezbollah.
The group has also claimed responsibility for recent rocket attacks on Israel, launched against the wishes of Hezbollah, whose long rule over southern Lebanon has gone unchallenged until Majid's Abdullah Azzam Brigades began its activities.
Al-Majid, a Saudi citizen was detained in Lebanon
late last month and had been held at a secret location. He was arrested in connection with the double suicide bombing in November of the Iranian
embassy in Beirut.
According to Washington, DC-based online newspaper Al-Monitor, al-Majid was arrested while undergoing kidney treatment at a Beirut hospital. On January 3, DNA samples from relatives in Saudi Arabia confirmed that the man in custody was Majid.
Scene of deadly double suicide bombing (Photo: EPA)
Witnesses try to help survivors of embassy bombing (Photo: AP)
He was the purported commander of the Azzam Brigades – though there is no verification of this status – and one of the 85 most-wanted individuals in his native Saudi Arabia.
Days before his death, Iran asked the Lebanese government for permission to join the investigation due to Majid's involvement in the bombing of the Islamic republic's Beirut embassy.
The US State Department designated the 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.
Roei Eisenberg contributed to this report