Al-Qaeda Envoy Caught at Beirut Airport
By: Radwan Mortada
Published Thursday, January 17, 2013
Future Movement MP Okab Sakr announced this past December that the abductors of the Lebanese pilgrims in Azaz, Syria would release their hostages as part of a prisoner swap that would see the release of prisoners held in Lebanese and Syrian jails. One of the prisoners, whose release Sakr is trying to broker as part of this deal, is a Jordanian al-Qaeda operative. Here is his story.
Seven months ago, Lebanese security forces arrested Abdul-Malek A., a Jordanian national and “al-Qaeda envoy.” Based on intelligence provided by the US, Lebanon’s General Security seized Abdul-Malek at the Beirut International Airport as he attempted to depart the country.
The arrest led security forces to other operatives, including Shadi M., Lebanese, and Abdul-Aziz A., Qatari.
Investigations uncovered the details of Abdul-Malek’s tasks and activities in al-Qaeda. He had been detained in Mount Lebanon’s Roumieh Prison since May 2012.
At the time, political and popular pressure led to the release of Shadi M. Similar pressure from Qatar resulted in the deportation of Abdul-Aziz A. to his home country, where he remains in one of its prisons, according to the latest information.
The Jordan detainee was born in Iraq and goes by many names: Omar, Nour, “the wolf,” and “the pilot,” among others. He admitted during interrogations that he worked under the cover of free trade, such as cars and real estate.
Security sources indicate that Abdul-Malek arrived in Lebanon in April 2012 and spent four days at a hotel in Beirut where he met several Lebanese citizens to coordinate the purchase and subsequent smuggling of arms to al-Qaeda fighters in Syria.
The information shows that Abdul-Malek departed to Iran, returning five days later through Syria after being unable to enter into Turkey. So he came to Lebanon to be able to fly to Qatar.
“His mission was to transport money and take care of al-Qaeda fighters’ needs,” the sources explained. He was arrested at the airport following a court order.
During interrogation, he confessed to be involved with collecting donations to al-Qaeda from individuals in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and the UAE, indicating that this happened through specialized units working online.
According to the detainee, these individuals do not not have direct lines of communication, but instead are linked to a point person in their respective countries who takes care of money transfers with help from others in Lebanon, Syria, Qatar, Saudi, Jordan, and Kuwait.
He said he joined al-Qaeda in 2008 and undertook training before fighting in Afghanistan. He admitted going to Iran to travel to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border for basic handgun and rifle training.
In mid-May 2011, he accompanied several members of al-Qaeda to Zabul province in Afghanistan. They remained there for ten days to conduct a military operation against US Army patrols.
From Zabul, Abdul-Malek moved to Camp Barabsha in Afghanistan to resume his training. There, he endured several injuries and lost the fingers on his right hand, prompting a radical shift in his al-Qaeda tasks.
He switched to logistical work, including “collecting money and transferring it to the organization’s members...and recruitment to al-Qaeda,” he explained, indicating he transferred funds to the organization using several countries of the Arabian peninsula as his bases.
He revealed that he transferred 50,000 Euros (€) through Iran in November and December 2011 and €11,000 in March 2012. This is in addition to €180,000, 200,000 Qatari Riyals, four pairs of binoculars (night and day vision), communication devices, arms, and ammunition delivered to operatives in Antakya, Turkey, to be transferred inside Syria.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.