The Abdullah Azzam Brigades

A paramilitary Islamic group connected to al-Qaeda and comprised of Palestinian refugees located in Lebanon. It is considered to be a branch of “al-Qā’idah fī Bilād ish-Shām” [al-Qaeda in the Levant] and it also plans al-Qaeda activities in Sinai. It began its paramilitary activities in the year 2004 with limited operations and announced its formation following the Gaza war of 2009. It is well known that ’Abdullāh ’Azzām, a Jordanian of Palestinian origin who was killed in Pakistan in 1989, is considered the founder of the Arab Jihādī group in Afghanistan and was a leader prior to the formation of Usāmah bin Lādin’s al-Qaeda network. The ’Abdullāh ’Azzām Brigades comprise a number of paramilitary units which spread in different areas each having a name different from that of “al-Qaeda”. One of these units is called “The Ziyād al-Jarrāh Battalion” which focuses on operations against Israel within Lebanon and developed out of the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Ziyād al-Jarrāh was a Lebanese suicide bomber who was one of those who carried out the 9/11 attacks.

Then there is the “Yūsuf al-’Ayrī Battalion” which is active in the Gulf and announced its responsibility for the suicide bombing operation carried out by Ayyūb at-Tayshān which targeted a Japanese oil tanker in Hurmuz in 2010. They stated that the aim of the attack was to “strike the economy of the global kufr system which invades Muslim lands and drains its resources”. As for Yūsuf al-’Ayrī also known as “Sayf ul-Battār” then he was born in 1973 and was of the senior al-Qaeda ideologues, he was killed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2003 after previously fighting in Afghanistan, Chechnya and the Philippines.

The ’Abdullāh ’Azzām Brigades announced their responsibility for a number of operations such as that which took place in October 2004 at the tourist resort of Taba in Egypt; attacks at the Ports of ’Aqaba in Jordan and Eilat in Israel in August 2005; rocket attacks launched into Israel in 2009 and as mentioned prior an attack on a Japanese oil tanker in Hurmuz in 2010. The brigades are based in the refugee camps in Ain al-Hilweh in southern Lebanon and its hardcore elements are continuously within the area as among their members are Saudis, Syrians, Palestinians and Iraqis. Their number is between 15-20 and there is also information which states that their number is about 50 active members.

Saudis Within the ’Abdullāh ’Azzām Brigades:

– Sālih ’Abdullāh al-Qar’āwī aka “Najm ul-Khayr” the field commander of the ’Abdullāh ’Azzām Brigades. He is a Saudi born in 1982 and is wanted by the Saudi Security Service [number 34 in a wanted list of 85]. He participated in fighting American forces in Fallujah and cooperated with Abū Mus’ab az-Zarqāwī the previous leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq by supporting him with finances and other needs. Before going to Lebanon on 15 December 2006 US agencies placed him on a US blacklist of those accused of terrorism. Al-Qar’āwī admitted in an interview with Markaz al-Fajr Media [an al-Qaeda media outlet] that he takes guidance from another man wanted by Saudi Arabia (number 36 in their wanted list) called Fahad Farāj al-Juwayr. Al-Juwayr was killed in a gun battle in Hayy al-Yarmūk in Riyadh in 2006 and he was part of a sleeper cell in Saudi Arabia who produced media propaganda for al-Qaeda websites. Al-Qar’āwī also highlighted his role in transporting six wanted individuals from al-Malaz Prison in Riyadh in 2006 in two prison breaks. The first one included prisoners ’Abdul’Azeez al-Mas’ūd, ’Abdul’Azeez al-Falāj and ’AbdurRahmān al-Hitār (a Yemeni); as for the second prison break then that included prisoners: Muhammad al-Qahtānī and Usāmah al-Wuhaybī. Al-Qar’āwī departed for Iran where he received extensive electronics training to be used for bomb plots and thus made Iran a centre for operations for his role as a mediator of al-Qaeda leaders for his quest to unite al-Qaeda members from Iraq and Lebanon. He assists the al-Qaeda facilitator Yāsir as-Sūrī and also has strong links with al-Qaeda factions based in areas which plot terrorist attacks. According to the Saudi Interior Ministry al-Qar’āwī has used 14 different names such as “Abū Yahyā al-Qar’āwī”, “Abū ’Abdullāh”, “Sāmī”, “Najm”, “Najm ul-Khayr”, “Najmu ul-Khayr al-Kuwaiti”, “Bahrūz”, “Najm ul-’Areen”, “Hamad”, “Akhūk as-Sagheer”, “’Abdullāh bin al-Qar’āwī”, “ibn Abū ’AbdurRahmān from Buraydah”, “Fawākih” and “Mu’tasim”.

– Ibrāheem Sulaymān Hamad al-Hablayn, aka “Abū Jabal”. He is a Saudi born in 1984 and is ranked number 2 in the Saudi wanted list of 85 terrorists. He is well-experienced in explosives and a factional leader within the group, the US State Department have included him in a list of terrorists. He is believed to be in Ain al-Hilweh.

– Mājid Muhammad ’Abdullāh al-Mājid, a Saudi born in 1973 and wanted by Saudi Security Services (ranked 69 in the wanted list of 85). Lebanese security sources certify that he came to Lebanon from Iraq through Syria with the intent of organising fighters. These same sources also claim that al-Mājid represents a severe threat.

Of the main priorities of the Brigade is to kidnap US and UK citizens within the Arab Peninsula and attack US interests which are considered to be the most important targets. Also of his objectives is to eliminate the “Palestinian armed struggle”. In February 2011 the ’Abdullāh ’Azzām Brigades incited two Saudis, taking advantage of events with the Arab world, to overthrow the ruling Saudi family and threaten to launch attacks on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Sources

– Centre for Intelligence and Terrorism Information at the Centre for Intelligence Heritage

– Details in the list of the 85 wanted by Saudi Security Agencies (Okaz newspaper, February 5, 2009).

– Al-Hayat newspaper, December 16, 2011.

– Sharq al-Awsat newspaper, 5 August 2010 – October 30, 2009

– “The ’Abdullāh ’Azzām Brigades,” a new terrorist organization with a branch in Lebanon (Lebanese site in Israel, September 16, 2010).

– ’Abdullāh ’Azzām Brigades in Lebanon: The Symbolic Grandson Coordinating Terror Operations; Saudis hold the organization togerther (Sharaq al-Awsat, 10 December 2011).

– CNN December 16, 2011 – Dec 23, 2010.

– Russia Today, 26 February 2011.

– Al Qaeda attack on the Japanese oil tanker (see the al-Jazeera News Channel programme Mā Warā’ al-Khabr [What’s Behind the News] – 8th August 2010).

– What is the reality of «Jund al-Sham» and «Fatah al-Islam» in Ain al-Hilweh? – (Ali Dawud- a-Jamhūriyyah newspaper, 2011).

– ’Abdullāh ’Azzām Brigades (see the al-’Arabiya News Channel programme Sunā’at ul-Mawt [The Craft of Death]).