SIDON, Lebanon: A follower of fugitive firebrand sheikh Ahmad Assir was killed while carrying out a suicide bombing operation in Iraq over the weekend. Rashed Bassam Abou Zeid, also known as “Abu Adam,” was a Sidon resident who reportedly carried out the mission in the Iraqi province of Anbar Friday, a security source told The Daily Star.
ISIS-affiliated Twitter accounts named him as one of the three bombers who coordinated attacks Friday near the Anbar Operations Command, west of the city of Ramadi. The attack came as ISIS militants seized the main government compound in Ramadi, raising their black flag over the facility and torching the police headquarters.
In a Twitter post Saturday, Assir described Abu Adam as “a likeable young man whom I met at Bilal bin Rabah Mosque.”
“He was protective of Islam and Muslims until the day he was killed in Anbar,” he added.
Abou Zeid’s family Friday announced their son’s death but did not disclose how or where he was killed. The statement circulated by the family said their son was “martyred on May 15, 2015, outside of Lebanon.” The family accepted condolences Sunday.
Pictures have already been distributed by ISIS to confirm that Abou Zeid had carried out the attack in Anbar.
Security forces had been on the lookout for “Abu Adam” after he left Lebanon for Turkey roughly two months ago.
This isn’t the first time an Assir follower is believed to have died fighting for jihadi elements outside Lebanon. Nader Mohammad Rifai, a Sidon native, was reportedly killed while fighting in Iraq, it was announced in March.
Rifai is suspected of fighting alongside Assir against the Lebanese Army in the 2013 clashes in the Sidon suburb of Abra.
Some months ago, Hasan Abdel-Nasser Ghandour, another follower, died after fighting alongside rebel groups in Syria. Also a participant of the Abra clashes, Ghandour, known by his nom du guerre “Abu Jaafar,” headed to Syria to fight with the Nusra Front, security sources said at the time. He emerged as a suspect in numerous suicide bombings that shook Lebanon between 2013-2014. Another Assir follower, Fadi al-Sousi was also said to have died in Syria.
Many supporters of Assir have gone into hiding in the aftermath of the battle with the Lebanese Army in Abra.
Security forces have beefed up efforts to track down the fugitives, especially after several Assir supporters were linked to a number of suicide bombings in Lebanon.
According to a source, security forces in Sidon have been raiding homes of suspected Assir followers as part of a campaign aimed at foiling terrorist operations across Lebanon.
Assir was the imam of the Bilal bin Rabah Mosque in Abra, near the site of the 2013 clashes, and was a fierce opponent of Hezbollah and its activities in Lebanon.
He claimed that the Lebanese government was controlled by Hezbollah and that state institutions, especially the security forces, were acting against Sunnis.
The clashes in Abra resulted in the deaths of 18 Army soldiers and around 40 of Assir’s followers. The Army also apprehended 46 suspects during the fighting.