Iran urges Lebanon to investigate Saudi man linked to Iranian embassy bomb in Beirut
Tehran has asked Lebanon to take part in the ongoing investigation with a Saudi man suspected of being the head of the Abdallah Azzam Brigades that claimed responsibility for the Iranian Embassy bombings, Iran’s envoy said Thursday.
"Iran officially asked Lebanon to participate in the investigation with Majid al-Majid given that he is the one responsible for the Iranian Embassy bombings,” Iranian Ambassador Ghazanfar Ruknabadi told a local television.
Caretaker Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour also confirmed Iran’s request.
A security source told The Daily Star Thursday DNA samples from the suspect have been sent to Saudi Arabia and that the results are expected to be announced later in the day.
Al Majid has lived in the Palestinian Refugee Camp of Ain El Hilweh and left the camp a month ago to Syria where he joined the ranks of Jabhat al-Nusra, fighting against regime forces.
Wanted by the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, Majed is a commander in Al Qaeda and head of Abdallah Azzam Brigades which claimed a twin suicide attack on the Iranian embassy in Beirut last November that claimed the lives of 30 people, including an Iranian diplomat, and wounded 150 others.
Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah has accused Saudi intelligence of being behind the Nov. 19 attack.
“We believe the Abdallah Azzam Brigades’ statement about the bombing ... this is a bona fide group that has a Saudi emir and its leadership is directly linked to Saudi intelligence,” Nasrallah said at the time.
Al-Majid had also sent jihadists from Ain el-Hilweh to fight in Iraq during the U.S. occupation and is suspected of planning terrorist attacks in Lebanon.
The Abdullah Azzam Brigades have also claimed responsibility of rocket attacks fired from Lebanon into Israel in recent years.
In remarks to pan-Arab Al-Hayat, Saudi Ambassador Ali Awad Asiri said Lebanon has informed Riyadh about the arrest of a Saudi citizen.
“Lebanese authorities have informed the Saudi Embassy in Beirut that they managed to arrest [head of the Abdallah Azzam Brigades] Majid al-Majid," Ali Awad Asiri said in remarks published Thursday.
“According to Lebanese authorities’ preliminary information, the man arrested is most likely Majid al-Majid,” Asiri added. “They are waiting to conduct DNA tests to be 100% sure.”
Asiri said Lebanese authorities were still interrogating the suspect, adding that the Saudi embassy was following up on the issue, primarily in terms of the detainee’s identity.
“Al-Majid is a Saudi citizen and no doubt [Riyadh] would like to have him back after verifying his identity,” he told Al-Riyadh newspaper.
But Asiri said Al-Majid’s extradition would take some time since Lebanese authorities were still questioning him and because of his deteriorating health condition.
Lebanon’s caretaker foreign affairs minister said Lebanon preserved the right to investigate Al-Majid and prosecute him in the country without handing him over to any party.
Speaking to Al-Manar television, Mansour said extraditing Al-Majed to any country required preexisting bilateral agreements between Lebanon and the concerned state.