Beirut: Immediately after two powerful explosions targeted the Iranian embassy in Beirut, news reports revealed that the Abdullah Azzam Brigades (AAB) claimed responsibility for the dastardly acts that, once again, raised the spectre of the so-called Al Qaida organisation in Lebanon. In a Twitter post in Arabic, the group’s spiritual guide, Shaikh Siraj Al Deen Zuraykat, affirmed that “two Sunni heroes of Lebanon,” carried out the “double martyrdom operation,” and warned that the group was ready to continue its operations until Hezbollah pulled its fighters out of Syria. However, details of the group remained murky and full of controversy. Some sources claimed the group was established in 2009, led by Saleh Al Qarawi, a Saudi national wanted by Interpol, while others insisted that it was created by Iranian secret services in 2003. However, Lebanese Intelligence sources confirmed denied that the group had ties to Al Qaida saying the accusations were ‘mere fabrications.’
The issue, like all other political issues in Lebanon, remains polarised. Pro-Hezbollah politicians are keen to assert that Al Qaida has established a firm presence in Lebanon. In 2011, the pro-Hezbollah Defence Minister Fayez Ghosn, warned of a the presence of Al Qaida near the Syrian borer. However, Interior Minister Marawn Charbel and Lebanese President Michel Sulaiman, denied the assertion. Naturally, Lebanon has seen some spillover from fighter groups in Syria seeking refuge and aid in bordering Lebanese towns. Important to remember in light of recent developments is that in 2007 when the Lebanese army fought Fatah Al Islam for control of the Nahr Al Bared Palestinian Refugee Camp north of Tripoli, it was found that the group with so-called ties to Al Qaida was, in fact, supported by Damascus.