Lebanese army arrests jihadist commander

Commander hails from the Abdallah Azzam brigades, listed by the United States as a terrorist organization

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A commander of a group loyal to al-Qaeda was arrested by the Lebanese army on Wednesday, according to an army statement.

The commander, Najm Abbas, is of the Abdallah Azzam brigades, the jihadist group which claimed a twin suicide attack against the Iranian embassy in Beirut last November, killing 25 people.

"After careful follow-up and monitoring, the (army) intelligence directorate in Beirut arrested the terrorist Naim Abbas, a commander of the Abdallah Azzam brigades," the army said in the statement, according to Agence France-Presse.

Shortly after the arrest, the National News Agency said soldiers were defusing a car bomb in a western neighborhood of the capital Beirut.

The Abdallah Azzam Brigades, which describes itself as loyal to al-Qaeda, has been listed by the United States as a terrorist organization since 2009.

In January, the army announced the arrest of its Saudi leader Majid al-Majid, who died days later from poor health.

Abbas' detention also follows the indictment of a Sunni Muslim sheikh, Omar Ibrahim al-Atrash, in connection with two suicide bombings in southern Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold, that killed at least six people.

In a late January army statement on Atrash, the army had said Abbas was among three "wanted men" loyal to the Abdallah Azzam brigades and Al-Nusra Front, Syria's Al-Qaeda branch.

In recent months, Lebanon has seen a string of deadly attacks linked to Syria's war, claimed by al-Qaeda-linked groups including the Abdallah Azzam brigades.

(With AFP)