The State Department has designated a leading member of Lebanon's al-Qaida spinoff organization for his involvement in terrorist attacks, but has not yet designated the organization. Ibrahim Suleiman Hamad Al-Hablain (also known as Abu Jabal) of Lebanon's Abdullah Azzam Brigade (AAB) was declared a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on Tuesday.
The designation of Al-Hablain "demonstrate[s] the United States' resolve in eliminating AAB's ability to execute violent attacks," the State Department said. It connected the designation to the group's involvement in July 2010 bombing of a Japanese oil tanker, an attack for which it claimed responsibility, and for firing rockets into Israel.
According to the Violent Extremism Knowledge Base, AAB coalesced in 2009 under the leadership of Saleh al-Qar'awi, a Saudi who fought with Iraqi insurgency in 2004. The group is made up largely of Palestinians living in southern Lebanese refugee camps and is said to be active mostly in the Sinai Peninsula.
Among AAB's many attacks were the April 2009 firing of rockets into the Israeli town of Nahariya; an August 2005 failed attempt to strike U.S. warships in Jordan's Aqaba port; the July 2005 bombing of a Sinai resort which killed 67 people and would more than 200; and, the October 2004 truck bombing of a Hilton hotel that killed 34 and wounded 120. The group was suspected in the bombing of Italian peacekeepers in May, but AAB denied involvement.
Despite the group's similar ideology, al-Qaida-linked leadership, and successful attacks, al-Qaida has not mentioned it as a formal branch of its organization. AAB recently praised the "blessed Syrian revolution" and stated that "the Jihadist groups that work in ash-Sham [the Levant] countries and Sinai must increase their attacks on the Jewish state and its interests," reports Evan Kohlmann's Flashpoint Intel.