BEIRUT: Lebanon’s military prosecutor Wednesday charged 13 individuals, including the man once thought to be the next leader of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, for allegedly planning terror attacks in the country.
Military Prosecutor Saqr Saqr charged detainee Jamal Daftardar, as well as 12 other fugitives – three Lebanese and nine Palestinians – with belonging to several related terrorist networks, including Al-Qaeda, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades and Nusra Front, and of plotting to carry out terrorist acts in Lebanon.
Daftardar, aka Mohammad Ahmad al-Masri, was charged with recruiting dozens of men and transferring them to Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen after training them to make weapons and explosives.
The detainee was also charged with providing the recruits with forged identify cards to help facilitate their movement.
Daftardar was arrested during a raid on a residence in the Western Bekaa town of Kamed al-Loz in mid-January. Another suspect, Mazen Abu Abbas, was shot and killed during the raid.
The cases of Daftardar and the other 12 were referred to Military Investigative Judge Riad Abu Ghayda. The men could face the death penalty if convicted.
Daftardar was regarded as the main candidate to take over the Abdullah Azzam Brigades leadership following the death of its leader Majid al-Majid. The brigades claimed responsibility for the Nov. 19 twin suicide attacks targeting the Iranian Embassy in Beirut that left 30 people dead, including an Iranian diplomat. The group has issued statements crediting Majid with playing a direct and leading role in the planning and execution of the bombings.
Majid was wanted by several countries on terrorism charges, including his home country of Saudi Arabia, but died of kidney failure on Jan. 4 in a Lebanese military hospital shortly after his arrest.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 30, 2014, on page 3.