BEIRUT: Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Saturday claimed responsibility for this week's car bomb in Beirut's southern suburbs as families laid to rest two victims of the deadly blast.
"In light of the Islamic State's security effort, [we] were able to breach the borders and infiltrate the security system of the party of Satan in Lebanon [Hezbollah] and attack it in the heart of its bastion, which is also known as it's security zone in Beirut's southern suburbs, on Thursday," a statement issued online by the Syrian rebel group said.
It added that the car bomb was “the first installment of a heavy account that awaits these shameless criminals.”
The Lebanese Army confirmed the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber identified as Lebanese Qotaiba Mohammad al-Satem who hailed from the northern region of Wadi Khaled in Akkar.
The military’s announcement came after forensic experts ran DNA tests on human remains found in the explosive-rigged vehicle used in the blast as well as on the victims and Satem's father.
The car bomb in the densely populated neighborhood of Haret Hreik, where Hezbollah enjoys strong support, killed four people and wounded 77 others.
A security source told The Daily Star Friday that Satem had disappeared three months ago, and that he had been fighting with ISIS in Syria.
The source said that Satem’s father regularly led prayers at a mosque in Wadi Khaled and that he was known for his extreme stances against the Syrian regime.
The source added that Satem was an engineering student at the Lebanese International University in Koura, north Lebanon.
Also Saturday, two victims from Thursday’s attack including 17-year-old Ali Khadra were laid to rest in separate neighborhoods in Beirut’s southern suburbs.
Covered in a Hezbollah flag, Khadra's coffin was carried on the shoulders of his friends and relatives in a crowded funeral procession in a southern Beirut neighborhood.
At Adnan Awali's funeral procession, Hezbollah MP Ali Ammar criticized politicians he alleged were justifying bombings in the southern suburbs, saying: "There are members of Nusra Front and ISIS in Lebanon and these politicians insist on justifying the logic of terrorism while we oppose all kinds of bombings in Lebanon."
Ammar was referring to his rivals in the Future Movement-led March 14 coalition which has blamed Hezbollah’s military involvement in Syria for the growing number of security incidents in Lebanon.
The Jan. 2 attack in the southern suburbs occurred less than a week after former Minister Mohammad Shatah and seven other people were killed by a car bomb in Downtown Beirut.