BEIRUT: The health of the man who was regarded as the leading candidate to take over the jihadist group Abdullah Azzam Brigades is deteriorating, a judicial source said Friday.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Daily Star that Jamal Daftardar’s health “has deteriorated and he has been in critical condition for some time.”
He said Daftardar, who was wounded during a Lebanese Army raid to arrest wanted suspects, has been suffering from an acute and contagious viral disease. The source would not elaborate.
Daftardar has been held at the military hospital in Beirut since mid-January after he was critically wounded in the waist and chest during the raid in the Bekaa Valley town of Kamed al-Loz.
After tests detected he had a contagious virus, Daftardar was placed under quarantine at the hospital with investigators having to wear special clothes, masks and gloves during interrogations. Daftardar had the virus before his arrest, according to the source.
Daftardar was once thought to be the next leader of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades following the death of the group’s Saudi head Majid al-Majid.
Majid died Jan. 4 from complications of multiple illnesses at the military hospital, days after his arrest.
Daftardar, who had a Syrian identification card at the time of his arrest, entered Lebanon last summer after being severely injured in the leg and back, the judicial source said.
Conflicting reports have emerged about Daftardar’s home country. The source said that his actual nationality was difficult to discern because of his various aliases.
The Al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades has claimed responsibility for several attacks in Lebanon, including the Nov. 19 twin suicide bombings on the Iranian Embassy in Beirut that left 30 people dead, among them an Iranian diplomat.