January 14, 2016 / 9:30 PM / in 2 years

Senior Qaeda-linked figure captured in Lebanon: security forces

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanese security forces said on Thursday they had arrested a senior member of an al Qaeda-linked militant group that has carried out attacks in the country.

A security source described Bilal Mezher as an “important catch”, close to Sirajeddine Zureiqat, head of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades. Mezher, who is Lebanese, was arrested in a special operation in Naameh area south of Beirut.

“This special operation is part of a wider campaign to arrest terrorists and all those linked to terrorist groups,” the source told Reuters.

The Abdullah Azzam group, named after a Palestinian regarded as the one-time spiritual mentor of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, has claimed attacks across the region including a double suicide assault on Iran’s Beirut embassy in 2014.

The Azzam Brigades are designated by the U.S. State Department as a foreign terrorist organization.

Reporting by Mariam Karouny; editing by Andrew Roche

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