Senior Al Qaeda leader dies in custody in Lebanon

Senior Al Qaeda leader dies in custody in Lebanon
Lebanese supporters of Hezbollah and relatives and friends of Ali Khadra, a teenager who died Thursday following an explosion, carry his coffin during his funeral procession in the southern suburb of Beirut on Saturday. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, an Al Qaeda-linked group, claimed responsibility for the bombing. (Nabil Mounzer / European Pressphoto Agency)

AMMAN, Jordan -- A senior Al Qaeda leader died in Lebanese custody Saturday, days after he was captured by the army.

Majid Majid, the head of the Al Qaeda-aligned Abudullah Azzam Brigades, a Sunni militia with factions in Lebanon and on the Arabian Peninsula, died of deteriorating health in a military hospital after his condition took a turn for the worse, the Lebanese army told state media. Other media reports said he died of kidney failure.

Days earlier, Lebanon had sent a sample of Majid's DNA to Saudi Arabia, where he was one of the country's most wanted men, before confirming his identity publicly.

The brigade is named for a Palestinian mentor to Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden and has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks, including the Iranian embassy bombing in November that killed 23 people.

Before his death, it was suggested that Saudi Arabia might try to extradite Majid.

Meanwhile another Al Qaeda-linked group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, claimed responsibility for Thursday's car bombing in a Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut that killed four people.

The Islamic State, which is aligned against the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad though it also sometimes clashes with opposition rebels, took credit on an official Twitter account. The militant Shiite group Hezbollah has sent fighters to Syria to fight alongside Assad’s forces.

"At a time of the security efforts of the Islamic State were able to break the boundaries and penetrate the security system of [Hezbollah] in Lebanon, and to crush its strongholds in the heart of its home in what is called the security zone in the southern suburbs of Beirut… in a first small payment from the heavy account that is awaiting those wicked criminals," the Twitter statement said.

Lebanon in recent months has seen a string of attacks linked to the war in Syria, including twin bombings in November outside the Iranian embassy compound that killed 23 people.


Twitter: @rajaabdulrahim

Special correspondent Bulos reported from Amman and Times staff writer Abdulrahim in Panama City, Fla.