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Lebanon arrests al Qaeda linked head operative

Lebanese troops have arrested a well-known member of an al Qaeda cell wanted on terrorism charges by Saudi Arabia and the US. It's believed Majed al-Majed was involved in bombing the Iranian embassy in Beirut last year.

Lebanese Army Intelligence officials have arrested the leader of an al Qaeda-linked group that claimed responsibility for a double suicide bombing at the Iranian embassy in November (pictured above), the defense minister told the news agency, AFP on Wednesday.

Majid al-Majid, the leader of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades in Levant, "was arrested by the intelligence services of the Lebanese army in Beirut," Defense Minister Fayez Ghosan said, without providing details of when the arrest took place.

"He was wanted by the Lebanese authorities and is currently being interrogated in secret," the minister added.

Majed al-Majed, had been in a Beirut hospital and was reportedly caught leaving the capital as he headed for eastern Lebanon.

The Abdullah Azzam Brigades immediately claimed responsibility for the November 19 attack. The group said it intended to force the Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement to withdraw its troops from Syria.

Saudia Arabia's interior ministry confirmed that al-Majed, a Saudi national, was one of the men most wanted by the country's intelligence agency and was on the "List of 85" which gives the names of the country's most dangerous fugitives.

'Terrorist organization'

The Abdullah Azzam Brigades was named as a "terrorist organization" in 2012 by the United States. The group has in the past claimed responsibility for launching missiles into Israel from Lebanon.

The organization was founded in 2009 and was named after an al Qaeda founder and comrade of Osama bin Laden. It is believed the group has branches in Lebanon and the Arabian Peninsula.

Al-Majed was sentenced in absentia by Lebanese authorities in 2009 to life in prison for his involvement with another extremist group, Fatah al-Islam, an al Qaeda inspired cell.

In 2007, Fatah al-Islam was involved in heavy fighting with the Lebanese army. More than 400 people were killed, including 168 soldiers.

jlw/pfd (AFP, dpa, AP)

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