BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanese investigators likely have identified one of the suicide bombers who targeted the Iranian Embassy in Beirut in an attack that killed 23 people, a senior judicial official said Friday.
The official said the suspected bomber, Mouin Abu Daher, is from the southern Lebanese city of Sidon. The official said authorities suspect Daher as his father told investigators his son was involved.
The official said investigators took DNA samples from Daher's father Friday to compare to remains of one of the suspected bombers. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't allowed to release the information.
An al-Qaida-linked group, the Lebanese Abdullah Azzam Brigades, claimed responsibility for the attack Tuesday. They said it was payback for the military support that Iran and the Shiite Lebanese militia Hezbollah provide against the mainly Sunni rebels fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The Syrian conflict, in its third year, also has become a confrontation between regional powers. It has exacerbated tensions between Lebanon's Sunnis and Shiites as well. The embassy bombing was one of the deadliest in a series of attacks targeting Hezbollah and Shiite strongholds in Lebanon in recent months.
The judicial official said investigators believe Abu Daher was a follower of a charismatic Sunni preacher in Sidon, Ahmad al-Assir. Assir and his hard-line supporters battled Lebanese soldiers, supported by Hezbollah fighters, in days of clashes in July.
Among those who died in the Iranian Embassy was Ibrahim Ansari, a 54-year-old Iranian diplomat who took up his post a month ago and was overseeing regional cultural activities. On Friday, Iranians in Tehran escorted his body through the streets after prayers. They carried posters of his image, chanted and mobbed his coffin, draped in the Iranian flag.