Even as President Obama campaigns on the vow that al-Qaeda is on its last legs, the State Department added a new affiliate of al-Qaeda to the list of designated foreign terrorist organizations yesterday.
The Abdallah Azzam Brigades began operating in 2009, based in both Lebanon and the Arabian Peninsula. AAB carried out a July 2010 attack on the Japanese-owned oil tanker M/V M.Star in the Strait of Hormuz and has expressed a desire to kidnap U.S. and British tourists in the Arabian Peninsula.
AAB is also responsible for numerous indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. These attacks, which have been launched from within Lebanon by the Ziyad al-Jarrah Battalions of the Abdallah Azzam Brigades, have targeted population centers in northern Israel.
A Pakistani network of the group claimed responsibility for the June 2009 Pearl Continental hotel bombing in Peshawar.
The organization is headed by Saleh al-Qar’awi, a 30-year-old Saudi national who fought US forces in Fallujah, Iraq, where he became acquainted with Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi. The group reportedly has several networks deployed in various locations, including a refugee camp in Lebanon and Yemen, each named after an al-Qaeda operative.
The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center says available information suggests that al-Qar’awi uses fake documents to travel between Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and the UAE, and currently appears to be in al-Qaeda’s training camps in Iran. He’s also likely to have stayed or currently be staying in Afghanistan.