Don’t Let Majed al-Majed Be Killed

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There are many stories about what Saudi national Majed al-Majed has perpetrated, whether through his extensive involvement in a wide array of al-Qaeda’s activities, or his role as the emir of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades. (Photo: Haitham Moussawi)

By: Ibrahim al-Amin

Published Saturday, January 4, 2014

[Update: Majed al-Majed died while in Lebanese custody on January 4.]

There are many stories about what Saudi national Majed al-Majed has perpetrated, whether through his extensive involvement in a wide array of al-Qaeda’s activities, or his role as the emir of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, and recently, his role in supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Certainly, dozens of Lebanese, Syrians, and non-Arabs were victims of terrorist acts that Majed had a role in, whether through planning, financing, or recruiting terrorists to carry them out.

As security officers closely involved in his case attest, Majed is a strong figure among his supporters and followers. The security sources say that Majed’s associates have carried out acts that demonstrate their conviction and faith in him, to the extent of being willing to sacrifice their lives for Majed.

The most recent example of this was the crew made up of at least seven men who acted as a decoy to help take Majed back from a medical trip to Beirut to his hideout in either the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp or a neighborhood in Saida. Majed’s bodyguards were aware that the Lebanese security services had knowledge of his medical illness, making them more cautious and prompting them to take additional measures, including drafting plans to bail him out in the event there was an attempt to kill or capture him. Four in Majed’s crew lost their lives in order to “secure” their leader’s movements.

Majed, according to experts on extremist groups, is privy to the secrets of a long era that spanned at least 10 years of direct action. His journey took him from Saudi Arabia to Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, and also Afghanistan and Pakistan, during which he became acquainted with quite a few individuals who would go on to join al-Qaeda. Majed also had a key role to play in helping jihadists regroup in decentralized frameworks following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan and the dismantling of al-Qaeda’s leadership.

The information supposedly in his possession covers a large number of operatives, operational details, the form and targets of sleeper cells, and amendments introduced to the modus operandi of jihadi groups after the US-led invasion of Iraq and then the Syrian crisis. Majed also has intricate knowledge of how the group’s leaders and members are financed, where the funds are spent, and also many of the group’s political, security, military, and economic contacts that helped it operate in several countries, including in Lebanon.

Furthermore, the emir of Abdullah Azzam Brigades is very familiar with the itineraries of “jihadi trips” to Syria, both before and after the crisis. Majed also has a record of the recruitment campaign among supporters of Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir.

More importantly, Majed, despite his illness, remained in contact with the cells tasked with attacking Hezbollah and the Lebanese army across Lebanon. The man possibly knows everything about the database of targets his group intends to attack, but above all, he holds the most important secrets about ties to Arab and Western governments and agencies, especially Saudi’s shadow men in the Levant and Iraq.

Yet as much as Majed was a high-value target that many agencies in the region and the world were tracking down, and as much as his arrest was a major achievement – regardless of how and why it succeeded – his case is shrouded in mystery, prompting one to infer that his capture was a difficult matter for those who decided to do it, and that he has now become a burden.

Since he was arrested on December 26 by a Lebanese army unit, the army went into “radio silence.” Perhaps this is an ordinary measure in the world of security services, especially since the catch was exceptional, and the military establishment needed time to take appropriate measures to secure the place of his detention, and keep him away from the eyes and hands of those who do not want him in prison alive, or who want him dead.

But after news leaked of the arrest, mystery continued to surround the army’s conduct. Conflicting statements, leaks, and information emerged, all leading to the same question: Who has been feeling nervous about the affair? Members of a security service outside the army expressed their anxiety over this by saying: It’s good that he’s in the army’s hands, because if he was in someone else’s custody, especially the Information Branch, and something bad happened to him, no one in the world would have believed that he was in dire health that could lead to his death.

Today, many in the state are faced with a major challenge. There are many rumors and inaccurate leaks about Majed’s health. Some hold that he had been in a coma since before he was arrested (and this is not true), while others purport that Majed had been suffering from rapid deterioration in his health in the days that followed his capture, that he is in no condition to be interviewed or questioned, and that there are indications he could enter into a coma or that he is living his final moments.

However, there are questions and warnings that need to be raised now, with officials in general, but with the army in particular, especially army commander Gen. Jean Qahwaji and intelligence director Gen. Edmond Fadel, and others in the state.

Majed’s life, and access to the trove of secrets he carries, are invaluable. Any attempt by outside parties, in the form of recommendations, wishes, or suggestions to get rid of him, will be very negative, and will adversely affect the army, the reputation of its leadership, and security conditions in Lebanon. Just listening to the pro-Saudi camp in Lebanon would draw a big question mark about things that go beyond self-interests and immediate ones.

Letting Majed die, or not doing enough to keep him alive, will be the biggest crime, equal to the terrorist crimes of Majed and his comrades. A segment of people in Lebanon, especially those who are pro-Resistance and who are being targeted by al-Qaeda, will be face to face with an open killing season in the event Majed is neglected.

Nothing should thus prevent us from raising our voice to say: Save Majed’s life, and do everything possible to keep him alive. Beware, beware of letting him die or letting him be killed!

Ibrahim al-Amin is editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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