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Beirut Bombing Iranian Embassy - The Hand of Saudi Prince Bandar?

by Oui Tue Nov 19th, 2013 at 12:40:01 PM EST

[Update] Richard Silverstein's take on the event in Lebanon - Hidden-Hand Behind Beirut Bombing.

Lebanon blasts hit Iran's embassy in Beirut

(BBC News) - At least 22 people have been killed and more than 140 injured in a double suicide bombing outside the Iranian embassy in the Lebanese capital Beirut. There are conflicting reports as to whether the Iranian cultural attache survived the attack.

Lebanese officials said the first suicide attacker was on a motorcycle, while the second was in a four-wheel drive vehicle.

A jihadist group linked to al-Qaeda said it carried out the attack. The head of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades described it as a "double martyrdom operation carried out by two heroes from the heroic Sunnis of Lebanon".

The Daily Star - Suicide bombers kill 25 near Iran embassy in Beirut

Qaeda-affiliated group claims Beirut blast

(Ynet News) - Sunni Sheikh Sirajeddine Zuraiqat, affiliated with radical global jihad organizations in Lebanon, tweets: 'Abdullah Azzam Brigades the Hussein bin Ali cells are behind the attack on the Iranian embassy in Beirut.'

The report has not been confirmed by any other source. According to Zuraiqat, the suicide bombing was carried out by "two heroes from the Sunni faction in Lebanon."

Lebanese officials condemn Iran Embassy bombings

The leader of the al-Qaeda affiliated Abdullah Azzam Brigades is Saleh al-Qarawi. Al-Qarawi was reportedly seriously injured by a US drone attack in Waziristan in 2012 and flown to Saudi Arabia for treatment of his injuries. He was later arrested and imprisoned. Social media attacked the Saudi Kingdom for failing to keep a commitment.  Jihadists claim that the Saudis struck a deal with al Qaeda that would lead to al-Qarawi's freedom.

Terrorist Designation of Saleh al-Qarawi- Dec. 15, 2011

Prior to his activity with the Abdallah Azzam Brigades (AAB), al-Qarawi fought against U.S. forces in Fallujah, Iraq. While there, he worked with now-deceased Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the former head of al-Qa'ida in Iraq. Al-Qarawi is a Saudi citizen currently wanted for extradition by the Government of Saudi Arabia for participating in extremist activities abroad. He is also the subject of an Interpol Orange Notice issued on March 25, 2009, for activities related to terrorism.

Terrorist Designations of the Abdallah Azzam Brigades - May 24, 2012

The Abdallah Azzam Brigades (AAB), a militant organization based in both Lebanon and the Arabian Peninsula, was formed in 2009. AAB is led by Saleh al-Qar'awi, who was designated by the Department of State under E.O. 13224. The Department of State also designated AAB's bomb maker, Abu Jabal, under E.O. 13224 on November 22, 2011.

AAB carried out a July 2010 attack on the Japanese-owned oil tanker M/V M.Star in the Strait of Hormuz. According to a statement released online, AAB claimed that the attack was carried out by its Arabian Peninsula Branch, which calls itself the Yusuf al-'Uyayri Battalions of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades.

Saudi prisoner release for jihad in al-Sham, did Prince Bandar release AAB terrorist al-Qarawi?

More below the fold ...

Did Black Prince Bandar Release AQ Terrorist al-Qarawi?

Online jihadists discuss fate of al Qaeda operative held by Saudi Arabia

(June 2013) - Prominent online jihadists have used Twitter to discuss the fate of Saleh al Qarawi, who is reportedly being held in Saudi Arabia. Al Qarawi was a senior leader in the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a Lebanon-based group that has claimed responsibility for rocket attacks in Israel as well as the July 28, 2010 bombing of a Japanese oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.

Al Qarawi reportedly suffered extensive injuries during a drone strike in Waziristan, Pakistan in 2012. His wounds were so grave, according to Asharq al Awsat, that he was forced to return to his native Saudi Arabia to receive medical treatment. Al Qarawi was one of the kingdom's 85 most-wanted extremists when the Saudis reportedly arrested him on June 9, 2012.

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Saleh al-Qarawi, from the Saudi Interior Ministry's list of 85 most-wanted terrorists

More than one year later, pro-al Qaeda jihadists are agitating for al Qarawi's release and denouncing the Saudis for supposedly reneging on an agreement not to hold him in custody.

One of these jihadists, according to BBC Monitoring, is Siyasi Mutaqa'id, "who was among the first to break the news about al Qarawi's return to Saudi Arabia" in 2012. Mutaqa'id claims that the Saudis struck a deal with al Qaeda that would lead to al Qarawi's freedom. In a series of tweets in late June, Mutaqa'id also claimed that al Qaeda may seek to retaliate against the Saudis for their violation of this supposed agreement.

About 600 Saudi Fighters Are in Syria

(AINA) - An estimated 600 Saudis have joined al-Qaeda-affiliated groups in Syria fighting against President Bashar's al-Assad's regime, a Saudi expert in Islamist movements told Al Arabiya's weekly program "Death making" on Friday.

Faris Bin Hizam said many Saudis are fighting on the ranks of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the al-Nusra Front. But the Saudi fighters are only a small number if compared to other foreign nationalities fighting in Syria, Bin Hizam said.

He added that unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, where al-Qaeda has a strong presence, there is increased awareness amongst Saudis regarding the dangers of belonging to al-Qaeda, and a widely held belief that the Syrian revolution does not need more fighters but rather financial support.

The ISIL is al-Qaeda's main branch in Syria, although al-Qaeda Chief Ayman al-Zawahiri recently ordered its disbanding. He said al-Qaeda in Syria is to be represented only by the al-Nusra Front.

The program also aired the latest images of Saleh al-Qarawi, the most-wanted man on a list of 85 terrorists, issued by the Saudi Interior Ministry in 2009. Qarawi appeared to have lost an eye, his right hand and his feet. The analyst said Qarawi sustained those injuries last month and is now in Saudi Arabia as he surrendered to the authorities to receive treatment.

Al-Qarawi served as a senior leader and operative for the Abdullah Azzam Brigades (AAB), a Lebanese militant organization and also operated in Iran and Afghanistan.

Historical background information:

Abdullah Yusuf Azzam a.k.a. Father of Global Jihad was a highly influential Palestinian Sunni Islamic scholar and theologian, who preached in favour of both defensive jihad and offensive jihad by Muslims to help the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviet invaders. He raised funds, recruited and organised the international Islamic volunteer effort of Afghan Arabs through the 1980s, and emphasised the political ascension of Islam.

During theological studies in Egypt, Azzam met Omar Abdel-Rahman, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri and other followers of Sayyed Qutb, an extremely influential leader of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, who had been executed by President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1966. Azzam adopted elements of Sayyed Qutb's ideology, including beliefs in an inevitable "clash of civilizations" between the Islamic world and non-Islamic world, and in the necessity of violent revolution against secular governments to establish an Islamic state. He is believed to have had a role in founding the Islamist Hamas movement in Palestine.

Life in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan

Azzam took a position as lecturer at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he remained until 1979. Osama bin Laden had grown up in Jeddah, and was enrolled as a student in the university there between 1976 and 1981 and he probably first made contact with Azzam at that time.

1979 became a pivotal year for Islamic movement, with three huge revolutionary events in the Muslim world. First, on 16 January 1979 the Iranian Revolution succeed in taking over the country and exiling the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, which then brought about the world's first modern Muslim theocracy under the rule of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The second major attempt at Islamic revolution that year was the 20 November 1979 Grand Mosque Seizure at Mecca, in western Saudi Arabia, the holiest site in Islam. The two-week siege and bloody ending shocked the Muslim world, as hundreds were killed in the ensuing battles and executions. The event was explained as a fundamentalist dissident revolt against the Saudi regime.

On 24 November 1989, Muhammad Azzam was driving his father and brother to Friday prayers in Peshawar (Pakistan), when unknown assassins detonated a bomb as the vehicle approached; lying in a narrow street across from a gas station, the explosive had a 50 metre detonation cord which led to the sewerage system where the assailant presumably waited. Suspects in the assassination include competing Islamic militia leaders, the CIA and the Israeli Mossad.

Serie of 4 Diaries Middle-East Policy

○ Part 1. 1967 War - Israel - Rothschild - Cheney - Spoils
○ Part 2. The Saudi-Israeli Alliance and Piggy-back Coup of 2005
○ Part 3. Between Hostage Taking and Pandora's Box
○ Part 4. US Will Be Ousted by Saudi King Abdullah in Middle-East

Saudi Arabia Says 41% of Wanted Militants Based in Iran - Feb. 6, 2009

(CBS News) - Saudi sources announced that 35 of the wanted suspects on the Kingdom's most wanted militants' list published last week were based in Iran, according to the Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

The sources said they received intelligence that the group based in Iran is plotting attacks against Saudi and Jordanian targets. The name of Saleh al Qar'awi, whose alias is Nejm and who had strong ties with slain al Qaeda chief in Iraq Abu Mus'ab Zarqawi, appears as one of the most important suspects and is thought to be in charge of the group's activities in Iran.

Original article in Arabic - Asharq al Awsat.

Al Qaeda affiliate looks to new targets in Persian Gulf

(CNN) Nov. 22, 2010 - Describing his priorities, al-Qarawi said they include kidnapping U.S. and British citizens in the Arabian peninsula. "American interests are our most important aims," he said, according to a translation by intelligence website Flashpoint Partners.

It is also clear from the interview that al-Qarawi is very much a Sunni purist. He has little time for the Shiite Hezbollah, accusing it of attacking Lebanon's Sunnis. He also accuses Lebanese Shiites of "malice" toward the country's Sunnis.

That suggests the Brigades would not have looked to Shiite Iran for help or harbor in attacking the M. Star (even if Saudi officials insist al-Qarawi once operated from Iran.)

by Oui on Tue Nov 19th, 2013 at 01:15:40 PM EST
Nuclear Talks - Deal likely be signed despite Israel efforts

(Ynet News) - Sources in Jerusalem say that though Israel voiced opposition to current outline of nuclear deal, Iran likely to sign soon. Obama says deal be achieved this week or next. Even if it takes a few more days, Iran will eventually sign an agreement with the P5+1.

US President Barack Obama nonethless injected a note of caution on Tuesday, telling a Wall Street Journal forum: "We don't know if we'll be able to close a deal with Iran this week or next week." He said the proposed deal would permit a modest lifting of economic sanctions on Tehran, allowing a small portion of Iranian assets to be unfrozen.

Following French President Francois Hollande's visit, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is scheduled to fly Wednesday to Moscow, where he is expected to try to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin in order to attempt to delay and weaken the potential nuclear accord.

In Israel, it is clear that Russia will not block the agreement, but according to sources, there is great weight on nurturing Netanyahu's relations with the Russian president.

Jerusalem is nonetheless pleased that the message that the likely agreement is wrong has been reiterated.

Putin: Now there's a real chance of solving Iranian nuclear problem

by Oui on Tue Nov 19th, 2013 at 05:17:43 PM EST
Latest news: Cameron speaks to Rohani and Letta and Bonino announce plans to visit Iran. Are they responding to hints from Obama?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Nov 20th, 2013 at 08:36:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As there was just a single source for placing the responsibility on the Abdullah Azzam Brigades (AAB), I have to be a bit cautious. From which locations is the AAB launching rockets towards Israel? Would be conflicting if they were launched from Hezbollah controlled territory in South Lebanon.

Sunni-Shi'ite battles may be diverting Islamic rage from Israel

(JPost) - No friend of Israel, the al-Qaida-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades decided to exert its energies instead on attacking the "near enemy" - Shi'ites in Lebanon. The group has been responsible for numerous rocket attacks against Israel.

Saleh al-Qarawi founded the group in 2009. Majid bin Muhammad al-Majid, a Saudi citizen, has led it since June 2012.  [Other reports state the group was founded as early as 2004 - Oui]

Radical Sunni groups such as the Azzam Brigades detest Shi'ites in general, and Iran and Hezbollah in particular, because of their support for the Alawite regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The Sunni-dominated opposition in Syria is fighting to topple Assad from power, partly because it does not see Alawites as true Muslims. Hence, in their eyes, Assad has no legitimacy to rule.

The group also dislikes Jews, and after rocket fire on Israel that it claimed responsibility for in August, it said that it was ready for a holy war against the Jews.

Sheikh Sirajuddin Zureiqat, a member of the Azzam Brigades, at the time tweeted a link to a statement which said that Jews were benefiting from the Syrian revolution.

by Oui on Wed Nov 20th, 2013 at 04:11:36 AM EST
Rafic Hariri and his construction company rebuild Beirut after the massive destruction of the civil war and the invasion by Israel. Ownership of Lebanese telecom was competitive between two Saudi families and led to a dispute within the Saudi royal family. The assassination of Rafic Hariri remains a mystery on the dark side of the event.

The Saudi Royal Bailout of Saad Hariri

(Al-Akhbar) Feb. 14, 2012 - Auditors who were called in to look into Hariri's companies - particularly construction giant Saudi Oger and its subsidiaries - had rarely seen anything like the wonders they found in the books. Specialists from major international auditing firms received no satisfactory explanations on why the lines between the political, the economic, the financial, the personal, and the professional were so blurred.

Some weeks ago, informed sources in Saudi Arabia said three major Saudi banks were thought to have made a decision to rate Hariri and his companies as financially vulnerable institutions. Saudi bankers reportedly found that Hariri's debts exceeded both what he was owed by the state and his projected revenues from new projects. Among their considerations was the fact that the Saudi market has become more competitive, and Hariri and his companies have jealous rivals within the royal family and beyond in the kingdom.

Lebanon: Hariri's Saudi Oger Empire for Sale

(Al-Akhbar) Nov. 19, 2013 - The Hariri-owned company, Saudi Oger, continues to struggle, burdening its owners with massive debts despite repeated layoffs and "restructuring." Now its majority stakeholder, Saad Hariri, is putting part of the company up for sale.

Former Lebanese prime minister and Future Party leader Saad Hariri's visitors in Saudi Arabia continue to report that the crisis facing his company, Saudi Oger, is far from over. Years of corruption and mismanagement among the company's top executives have left it nearly $3 billion in the red, according to these sources.

Reports are now reaching former Oger employees that Hariri is considering selling part of the company to a member of Abu Dhabi's royal family, Mansour bin Zayed, which could greatly improve the firm's financial situation. Some of the news suggests that the share in question may be in Oger Telecom, of which Hariri has sold 35 percent to the Saudi telephone company, STC.

by Oui on Wed Nov 20th, 2013 at 08:01:43 AM EST
April 22, 1975: Kissinger Outlines US Plans to Help Iran Achieve Nuclear Capability

Secretary of State Henry Kissinger circulates National Security Decision Memorandum 292 on "US-Iran Nuclear Cooperation" outlining the administration's negotiating strategy for the sale of nuclear energy equipment to Iran. The document states the government would permit "US material to be fabricated into fuel in Iran for use in its own reactors and for pass through to third countries with whom [the US has] agreements." According to the document, the administration would "agree to set the fuel ceiling at the level reflecting the approximate number of nuclear reactors planned for purchase from US suppliers," but would consider increasing the ceiling "to cover Iran's entitlement" from their proposed $1 billion investment in a 20 percent stake in one of the private US uranium enrichment facilities that would be supplying Iran. The strategy paper also explains under what terms the Ford administration would be willing to grant Iran approval to reprocess US supplied fuel.

Iran's Enrichment for the US Built Tehran Research Reactor

Iran to pursue investment in French Eurodif

In 1974, Iran invested more than $1 bn in a joint French-Iranian company specialising in uranium enrichment called Sofidif, which itself owns 25 pct of Eurodif. As a result, Iran holds indirectly about 10 pct of Eurodif, which is 60 pct owned by Aréva.

Aréva denies unit supplied Iran with enriched uranium

by Oui on Wed Nov 20th, 2013 at 04:25:25 PM EST
Gulf Arabs urge foreigners out of Syria, drawing regime ire

Kuwait City (AFP) - Gulf Arab states demanded foreign militias quit Syria and said President Bashar al-Assad must have no future role. Adopting a firm stance on Syria, the GCC "strongly condemned the continued genocide that Assad's regime is committing against the Syrian people using heavy and chemical weapons".

It called "for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Syria," in a clear reference to Iran-backed Shiite militias from Iraq and Lebanon's Hezbollah movement which are supporting Assad's troops against Sunni-led rebels.

The GCC backed the opposition National Coalition's decision to attend a Geneva peace conference, saying the January 22 meeting should lead to the formation of a transitional government with extensive executive powers and in which Assad would have no role.

"Pillars of the Syrian regime whose hands had been stained by the blood of the Syrian people must have no role in the transitional government or Syria's political future," the oil-rich nations said in their summit's closing statement.

In response, Syria strongly condemned the "inflammatory rhetoric of the Council's statement on Syria, particularly as countries in the Council... support and practice terrorism".

"Those who participated today in the summit in Kuwait, first among them the Saudi regime, have contributed in large part to the killing of Syrians and the destruction of their country," said the foreign ministry.

by Oui on Wed Dec 11th, 2013 at 07:32:33 PM EST

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