U.S. Designates Abdullah Azzam Brigades
by Daniel E. Rogell • May 25, 2012 at 4:56 pm
The State Department has designated the Abdullah Azzam Brigades [AAB], an Islamist terrorist organization with active branches in Lebanon and the Arabian Peninsula, as a foreign terrorist organization. The group's strategy and aims match al-Qaida, but it has a longer reach to carry out attacks than any of the AQ franchise branches.
AAB was founded sometime after 2004 by Saudi citizen Saleh al-Qarawi, who had fought the American occupation in Iraq, according to the Long War Journal. Al-Qarawi claimed that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, former leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, had ordered him to form the group to carry out attacks in the Levant region, encompassing Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and the Palestinian territories.
The organization successfully hit both Western interests in the Middle East, as well as Israeli border towns. In July 2010, the group's Yusuf al-'Uyayri Battalions branch carried out a suicide bombing of a Japanese-owned oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world's key petroleum shipping routes. The Ziyad al-Jarrah Battalions branch, based in Lebanon and composed primarily of local Palestinians, have indiscriminately bombed Israel's northern border and threatened the fragile quiet there. Groups calling themselves AAB have also carried out attacks in Sinai and even Pakistan.
AAB takes its name from Osama bin Laden's predecessor and teacher, Abdullah Azzam, and its inspiration from bin Laden. Azzam was a Palestinian jihadi leader responsible for building much of the infrastructure and ideology for jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
The designation allows authorities to freeze any domestic assets the brigades may have, and prohibits anyone from engaging in any transactions or other forms of support with it.
Reader comments on this item
Submitted by Denis, May 30, 2012 14:39
It should also be noted that Abdullah Azzam was Osama bin Laden's instructor and mentor in King Abdu Aziz University in Jeddah Saudi Arabia in the late 70s. He received his religious training at Al Azhar University in Cairo and was removed as a religious instructor from Jordan because of his radical ideas. After the attack on Mecca by Yemeni radical Muslims in '79 and the resulting crackdown on extremists in Saudi Arabia, he went to Pakistan to organize the mujahideen fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. Bin Laden joined him a few years later and together they formed Al Qaida.