Qaeda group says it’s behind Beirut bombing

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant says it targeted Hezbollah’s stronghold in Beirut because of its “criminal” acts

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The al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Saturday claimed responsibility for the suicide car bombing last week in the stronghold of the “criminal” Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

ISIL penetrated the “security system of the Party of Satan (Hezbollah)... and crush its strongholds... in a first small payment from the heavy account that is awaiting those wicked criminals,” Agence France-Presse quoted the al-Qaeda-linked group as saying in a statement posted onto a website page used by Sunni militants.

The bombing, which took place Thursday in Beirut’s Haret Hreik district, killed at least five people and wounded 77.

It was the latest in a wave of attacks to hit Lebanon in recent months as Syria’s civil war spills into its smaller neighbor.

Hezbollah’s fighters are aiding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a civil war that pits him largely against Sunni Muslims, including ISIL.

The army, meanwhile, said Saturday that a young man from northern Lebanon was the bomber who blew himself up.

“The DNA test results on the remains of a suicide attacker found in the car used in the bomb attack... confirm they belong to the youth Qutaiba al-Satem,” said the army.

It added: “Investigations are ongoing by the relevant judicial authorities to uncover the full details of the event.”

An official from Satem’s native Sunni-majority area of Wadi Khaled told AFP on Friday suspicions over the 20-year-old’s role were based on a family document found at the scene of the blast.

Satem’s father was then called in for DNA tests.

ISIL is battling to impose their extreme version of Islamic law in the region.

In a related story, an alliance of Islamist and other rebel factions battled ISIL fighters across north-western Syria on Saturday in apparently coordinated strikes against the powerful al-Qaeda-linked group.

(With AFP and Associated Press)