“The Syrian war has come knocking on Iran’s headquarters in Lebanon, and it is
being targeted directly by Sunni extremists,” an expert on Iranian politics told
The Jerusalem Post Tuesday.
He spoke after a suicide bomb ripped through
Iran’s embassy compound in Beirut.
“This bodes badly for Iran’s efforts
to portray itself as a protector of Muslims, since it is increasingly becoming
involved in a sectarian war between Shi’ites and Sunnis,” said Meir Javedanfar,
a lecturer on Iranian politics at the Interdisciplinary Center
No friend of Israel, the al-Qaida-linked Abdullah Azzam
Brigades decided to exert its energies instead on attacking the “near enemy” –
Shi’ites in Lebanon.
The group has been responsible for numerous rocket
attacks against Israel.
Saleh al-Qarawi founded the group in 2009. Majid
bin Muhammad al-Majid, a Saudi citizen, has led it since June
Radical Sunni groups such as the Azzam Brigades detest Shi’ites in
general, and Iran and Hezbollah in particular, because of their support for the
Alawite regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
opposition in Syria is fighting to topple Assad from power, partly because it
does not see Alawites as true Muslims.
Hence, in their eyes, Assad has no
legitimacy to rule.
The group also dislikes Jews, and after rocket fire
on Israel that it claimed responsibility for in August, it said that it was
ready for a holy war against the Jews.
Sheikh Sirajuddin Zureiqat, a
member of the Azzam Brigades, at the time tweeted a link to a statement which
said that Jews were benefiting from the Syrian revolution.
the statement, Israel and the West were giving Hezbollah a green light to fight
in Syria so as to protect Israel’s security by keeping the Golan border
The Azzam Brigades is named after Abdullah Azzam (1941- 89), a
Palestinian and leading jihadist figure who was close to Osama bin
According to the US State Department website, the organization was
created in 2009 and is based in Lebanon and the Arabian Peninsula.
fought against US forces in Fallujah, Iraq, working with then-head of al-Qaida
in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, according to the State Department.
forces killed Zarqawi in Iraq in 2006, and a US drone reportedly severely
wounded Qarawi in Pakistan, with him losing his legs, a hand and his left eye
before returning to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment.
long-time ideological foes of Sunnis, with the origins of the clash going back
to the question of political leadership and the succession of Muhammad in the
“Therefore there are many among the Sunnis, especially
the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia, who consider Shi’a as a kind of fundamental
heresy,” wrote Mordechai Kedar, director of the Center for the Study of the
Middle East and Islam (under formation) and a research associate at the Begin-
Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, in a post on his
“The Saudi regime forbids the Shi’ite minority to recite the call
to prayer aloud, because even in the [Shi’ite] muezzin’s call to prayer there is
an extra part praising Ali,” Kedar said.
Shi’ites regard Ali (died 661)
and his descendants to be the rightful successors to Muhammad.
radical Sunnis throughout the region direct their burning rage at Shi’ites, the
Assad regime and their fellow Sunni opponents, leaving Israel as mostly a
sideshow for the time being.
Prof. Eyal Zisser, an expert on Syria from
the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University, told the Post on Tuesday that he
does not necessarily see the main players in Lebanon as interested in avoiding
“We can presume that this situation will continue, according
to which terrorist attacks will be followed by a little bit of quiet and then
more attacks – in short, terror on a low flame,” Zisser said.