Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 04, 2014

Al-Majid's Convenient Death

Hmmm ...

BEIRUT - The suspected leader of an al Qaeda-linked militant group that claimed responsibility for bombing the Iranian embassy in Beirut two months ago died in custody on Saturday, security sources said.

Majid bin Muhammad al-Majid, a Saudi national who was wanted by authorities in his own country, had been suffering from kidney failure and went into a coma on Friday, the sources said. He died in a military hospital in Beirut, they added.

Majid bin Muhammad al-Majid was the leader of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades. While the organization is on the Saudi and U.S. terror list, many assume that al-Majid, a Saudi, was also on the payroll of some Saudi service.

The Lebanese army snatched him from a hospital just a few days ago. But as Lebanon continues its internal fight between Saudi supported March 14 and Hizbullah and its allies any legal process involving al-Majid would have been at least very complicated. Now the Lebanese army decided that he died. We can bet that there will be no public display of his corpse. That is until after he really dies, probably a few years from now, in some Saudi sanatorium.

The Saudis recently promised three billion for rearming the Lebanese army. Not to endanger that much loot might have been an additional motive for al-Majid's sudden "departure".

Posted by b on January 4, 2014 at 15:16 UTC | Permalink


Maybe killing him off suited both the Lebanese and the Saudis - after all dead men don't talk. If he had been spirited out of Lebanon to Saudi Arabia, the news would almost certainly have leaked as I doubt much happens in the Lebanese government without Hezbollah knowing. Unless of course the Lebanese army lifted al-Majid to ransom him back to the Saudis.

Posted by: blowback | Jan 4 2014 15:28 utc | 1

BBC broadcast this morning that the Iranian Foreign Minister did not cancel his trip to Lebanon on Monday; evidently the trip had been scheduled immediately after Majid's capture. I rather believe b might be correct. I'm beginning to imagine an auction for his turnover.

Posted by: okie farmer | Jan 4 2014 15:54 utc | 2

It's worth noting that although the Army (which is pretty non-sectarian) do much of the arresting, they don't have access once the person is in prison. However, the Internal Security Force (which is in the pocket of the Mar 14 crowd, ie Hariri & co), do have access. I think that by making an alliance with Nusra, Majid may have fallen foul of the split between ISIS and Nusra.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jan 4 2014 16:13 utc | 3

A statement in the name of ISIL claimed responsibility on Saturday for a suicide bombing in southern Beirut that killed at least five people two days ago. The purported ISIL claim, which also warned of further attacks, came in a statement responding to an offensive against the group by rival forces in northern Syria over the last two days in which dozens of people have been killed. The statement said the fighting in Syria had been launched at a time when ISIL had "breached the borders and penetrated the security system of the Party of Satan in Lebanon." ISIL said it had "struck its stronghold in the so-called security zone in southern suburbs of Beirut on Thursday, in the first small instalment of a heavy account that awaits these shameless criminals." (Reuters)

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jan 4 2014 16:18 utc | 4

I'm pretty sure they really killed him. The Saudis regularly cut off loose ends. After all for the Saudi regime, it's just another head to roll.

Posted by: Ammar | Jan 4 2014 16:40 utc | 5

2) There was at least one person arrested with him. There must have been documents, mobiles, credit cards, all sorts of interesting stuff.

Saudi policies are not that simple

From Wikileaks - 2007

¶5. (SBU) Saudi Arabia has been a strong political and financial backer of the LAF since mid-2007 when it quietly provided $100M to support LAF operations against Fatah al-Islam militants in Lebanon's Nahr al-Barid refugee camp. This assistance came in addition to a $1B deposit in the Central Bank of Lebanon after the 2006 Israel-Hizballah war and millions of dollars of humanitarian, reconstruction, and development assistance since 2006.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 4 2014 17:14 utc | 6

2) At least one person was arrested with him. There must be mobiles, credit cards, all kinds of interesting stuff.

Saudi policies are not that simple. From 2007 Wikileaks SaudiLeaks: Saudi funded Nahr al-Barid war on … Saudis

¶5. (SBU) Saudi Arabia has been a strong political and financial backer of the LAF since mid-2007 when it quietly provided $100M to support LAF operations against Fatah al-Islam militants in Lebanon's Nahr al-Barid refugee camp. This assistance came in addition to a $1B deposit in the Central Bank of Lebanon after the 2006 Israel-Hizballah war and millions of dollars of humanitarian, reconstruction, and development assistance since 2006.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 4 2014 17:18 utc | 7

More on Saudi complex policies - from Wikileaks - yep they probably killed him. The embarrassement would be to great.

6. (C) Saudi foreign fighters are also an issue with Saudi-Russian relations. Beginning in 2003 with the visit of then-Crown Prince Abdullah to Moscow, the SAG has dramatically improved relations with Russia. However, tensions still arise in the bilateral relationship due to the conflict in Chechnya and the traditional role of Saudi foreign fighters there. One of the most notorious Saudi fighters in Chechnya is Abu Al-Walid Al-Ghamdi, from the Al-Ghamdi tribe, who has been leading Arab fighters there since 2002. Many Al-Qaeda members hail from this tribe, one of Saudi's largest tribes, including several involved in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks as well as the May and June 2003 terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia. The SAG has refused to withdraw his Saudi citizenship, probably fearing the internal repercussions of this bold move against such a large tribe. Despite increased Saudi-Russian bilateral relations over the past five years, the issue of Chechnya is still one of concern, according to MFA officials. The SAG continues to keep tribal issues in its sights, since key Saudi tribes compose a majority of the foreign fighters, while increasing its counter-terrorism efforts and working on rebuilding and strengthening its relations with Russia-- an important ally to Saudi Arabia on many fronts. 7. (C) Even in Lebanon, a country divided along sectarian and ethnic, but not tribal lines, Saudi tribal policy plays a role. According to the Damascus-based Al-Watan newspaper, Saudi Arabia's international image is shaped by its relationship with its tribes and its traditional tribal and Salafi thought. This is apparent in its relations with Syria and Lebanon. In summer 2007, during the fighting with Al-Qaeda-inspired Fatah Al-Islam in the Nahr Al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon, many of the foreign fighters in the camp were suspected of being Saudi citizens. Publicly, Saudi Arabia repeatedly denied involvement of its government or citizens in this conflict, however, mounting evidence demonstrates Saudi citizen involvement. 8. (C) On February 24, 2008, the Saudi Gazette reported that the Saudi Embassy in Lebanon identified the bodies of two Saudi citizens who died during the fighting last year. Another body was identified and repatriated to Riyadh in July 2007. Currently ten Saudis are under interrogation by Lebanese authorities. Among the names of the deceased fighters, several were from tribal, not religious-based families, such as Obaid, a major tribe whose ancestors settled in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan hundreds of years ago. Interestingly, some of the fighters with "tribal" names took on more "Islamic" names when they joined Fatah Al-Islam, according to media sources. 9. (C) According to sources at the Arab States Department at the MFA, tribes "officially are not a factor" in the SAG's Lebanon policy. However, unofficially, tribes affect the SAG's entire foreign policy. The SAG down-played media reports of its citizens' involvement in the Nahr Al-Bared camp and did not provide much public support to the Lebanese Government during its fight. This contrasts starkly with the SAG's current support and intense public, international campaign to end the Lebanese political crisis, provide financial assistance to its government, and end foreign interference from Syria in Lebanon.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 4 2014 17:32 utc | 8

It's a dodgy story alright. This guy was arrested a few days ago for the bombing of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut that happened few weeks back. To be honest I can imagine a number of things that happened.

A) Saudi's killing him to shut him up about their role in the embassy blast.
B) Iran killing him in revenge, Hezbollah is known to have completely infiltrated the Lebanese Armed Forces.
C) Saudi adding a condition onto the 3 billion "gift" to the Lebanese Army for getting him out of the country.
D) Or simply just Lebanese Army incompetence (anyone who reads Angry Arab's blog knows of their comical performance).

But then again its easy to imagine, what could have happened. This is another one of those murky intelligence stories that we will never know an answer to. Only people with answers are Majid Al Majid and his Lebanese guards and I doubt either will talk. As B wrote in his title I would label his cause of death as "convenience".

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Jan 4 2014 18:04 utc | 9

The guy was about to reveal Bandar Ben Sultan's role in financing the Al Qaeda fighters in Syria. He had to be killed.

Posted by: Virgile | Jan 4 2014 18:56 utc | 10

He may have had knowledge about Chemical attack in Syria.
He was also linked to Kuwaiti, UAE, Saudi financial donors to Takfiris.

Posted by: loyal | Jan 4 2014 19:22 utc | 11

@Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Jan 4, 2014 1:04:58 PM | 9

I think all 3 parties (Iran, Saudi, Lebanese) agreed to his death. Let's see if Iran demands to see the autopsy, i doubt it. This current FM of Iran appears suspect to me, he grins too much!

We can discount Hezbollah killing him., my gut feeling is Iran agreed to this in return for blood money, and peace.

Posted by: hans | Jan 4 2014 19:27 utc | 12

"... my gut feeling is Iran agreed to this in return for blood money, and peace."

I doubt Iran agreed. Iran seems more likely to me to have wanted to question him. There are several good guesses in comments about motives for killing him, but I read that he had been in a general hospital under false name with failing kidneys, discovered there by Lebanese intelligence and transferred to an army hospital where he died - a scenario which leads to other possible speculations. Exactly as Colm said, "This is another one of those murky intelligence stories that we will never know an answer to."

Posted by: okie farmer | Jan 4 2014 21:07 utc | 13

From al akhbar:

Posted by: bevin | Jan 4 2014 21:41 utc | 14

According to that editorial, unlike, as far as I can make out, the majority of prisoners, Majid remained in the Army’s hands after his arrest, and up until his death, hence the ‘military hospital’. Ibrahim al-Amin of al-Akhbar goes out his way to make this point.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jan 5 2014 3:07 utc | 15

Hmm, dialysis machines have been around a long time and if you have the technology, you can keep people alive who have almost completely non-functional kidneys.

Posted by: AEL | Jan 5 2014 3:09 utc | 16

aha - I had worried that his sudden death from illness seemed improbable, but this if true explains it:

Majid's health is understood to have been deteriorating long before his arrest last Thursday. "On Dec 27, the hospital where Majid was being treated contacted the Red Cross to arrange his transfer to another hospital," a medical source told local Arab media. Before he reached the second facility "the Lebanese army intelligence intercepted the ambulance and arrested Majid." He was held at the Baadba military hospital where the authorities said his interrogation had to be stopped owing to his poor health.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jan 5 2014 8:52 utc | 17

Interesting update:

Along with Al-Maajed, LGS also arrested a curious figure who carried false Saudi documents but who later confessed to being the son of Bandar Bin Shaytaan, the crazed, ape-like chairmonkey of the Saudi National Security Council. Armed with this knowledge, President Michel Sulayman of Lebanon traveled to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and confronted King 'Abdullah bin 'Abdul-'Azeez about the thorny issue. According to some sources in Lebanon, the meeting was dressed up to look like a love affair with Sulayman heaping completely undeserved praise on the simian kingdom. In truth, as SyrPer has learned, Sulayman was not happy about anything to do with explosions in his country - especially when they were the work of Al-Qaeda. While King 'Abdullah pretended to be supportive of the Lebanese government's efforts to stanch the growth of Hizbollah, his real purpose was to extract his nephew's son from the startlingly devastating embarrassment of being caught red-handed in the clutches of Al-Qaeda.

The evidence is now in that Bandar's son, who has not been named yet, was much involved in an effort to take over leadership of the Jabhat Al-Nusra terrorist organization operating out of Syria. In this regard, he failed. It has been revealed, however, that Bandar completely controlled the 'Azzaam Brigades, giving it specific orders which included the detonation of the bomb that almost destroyed the Iranian Embassy. This would be an act of war. Bandar's son, as far as we know, remains in Lebanese custody. Iranian Ambassador to Beirut, Ghudanfar Rukn-Abaadi, is intimately involved in the investigation.

Posted by: Harry | Jan 5 2014 21:00 utc | 18

Turkish PM Erdogan hit by allegations of son’s meeting with Al Qaeda financier

Mr Al Qadi is accused by US authorities of financing Al Qaeda, a charge he has in the past denied. His charitable Muwafaq foundation was identified by the US Treasury department as an Al Qaeda front and placed on a terror list in October 2001. The United Nations removed Mr Al Qadi from a separate list of people under sanctions because of Al Qaeda connections in October 2012.

The businessman has had strong commercial and political connections in Turkey for years. As early as 2006, Mr Erdogan publicly defended Mr Al Qadi against terrorism charges, telling a television interviewer that the businessman was “a charitable person who loves Turkey”.

A report by Forbes in 2008 alleged that Mr Al Qadi used his friendship with Mr Erdogan to avoid UN sanctions.

Posted by: Virgile | Jan 7 2014 0:02 utc | 20

Are the USA so desperate to find a strong military opposition to Bashar Al Assad's resilient army, that they are ready to help the FSA despite its strong links with Al Nusra, a terrorist group, and the Islamic front that Saudi Arabia controls and assures that they will become 'moderate'?
Doesn't remind us Qatar and Turkey selling to the West that the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt are under their control and are 'moderates'?
Who is susceptible to be more moderate, a Saudi Wahhabi Islamic group or a Turkish-Qatar Islamic group?

Posted by: Virgile | Jan 7 2014 0:28 utc | 21

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