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Lebanon IDs leader of al-Qaida-linked group

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BASSEM MROUE | January 3, 2014 09:07 AM EST | AP

BEIRUT (AP) — DNA tests have confirmed that a man in Lebanese custody is the suspected leader of an al-Qaida-linked group that has claimed responsibility for bombings across the Middle East, the Lebanese army said Friday.

In a brief statement, the army said the tests show that the detained man is indeed Majid al-Majid, a Saudi citizen and the commander of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades. Al-Majid is on Saudi Arabia's list of 85 most-wanted individuals, and the U.S. State Department has designated the group he leads a foreign terrorist organization.

The group has claimed responsibility for attacks throughout the region, including the 2010 bombing of a Japanese oil tanker in the Persian Gulf and several rocket attacks from Lebanon into Israel. The latest attack claimed by the group was the Nov. 19 double bombing of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut that killed at least 23 people and wounded dozens.

In 2012, the U.S. declared the Abdullah Azzam Brigades a terrorist group. The State Department's action froze any assets it holds in the U.S and banned Americans from doing business with the group.

Earlier on Friday, families of those killed in the Iranian Embassy bombing demanded that al-Majid be tried in Lebanon and not be sent to his homeland. He has not been charged in connection with the embassy blasts.