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Senior al Qaeda militant dies in Lebanese prison

A top al Qaeda militant who was arrested in Lebanon last month has died in custody, according to the Lebanese army. Majid al-Majid, a Saudi, was wanted both by his own country and the United States.

Majid al-Majid "died this morning while undergoing treatment at the central military hospital after his health deteriorated," the army said in a statement released on Saturday.

The statement gave no details of the cause of death. But a Lebanese army general, speaking on conditions of anonymity, earlier told the AP news agency that al-Majid had died of kidney failure.

The militant was believed to have serious kidney problems that required dialysis, and his arrest last month reportedly came while he was in an ambulance after undergoing the treatment in a Beirut hospital. He was held at an undisclosed location after being captured.

Al-Majid, the purported commander of the al Qaeda-linked Sunni group Abdullah Azzam Brigades, was one of the 85 most-wanted individuals in his native Saudi Arabia, and also sought by the United States on terrorism charges.

The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, named after a close associate of the late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, claimed responsibility for a November 19 double suicide attack on the Iranian embassy in the southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital, Beirut (an image taken after the bombing is pictured above). Twenty-three people died and dozens were wounded in the attack, which the Brigades said was to pressure the Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement to pull its fighters out of Syria.

The Brigades have also claimed responsibility for other attacks throughout the region, including the 2010 bombing of a Japaneses oil tanker in the Persian Gulf.

Al-Majid's indentity was confirmed only on Friday, following a DNA test.

The US State Department had declared his group a foreign terrorist organization in 2012, freezing assets it holds in the US.

tj/msh (AP, dpa)

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