BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanese investigators have identified a second suspect in the bombing of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut that killed 23 people, officials said Saturday, as DNA testing confirmed the identity of the other bomber involved in the attack.
Intelligence officials said they believed the second bomber was Adnan Mousa el-Mohammed, a Palestinian man who lived near the port city of Sidon. They offered no other information about el-Mohammed. However, Sidon was the home of Mouin Abu Daher, the other bomber in the attack, authorities said. Abu Daher's father told authorities he believed his son was involved after the army released a photograph of one of the suicide attackers. A DNA test identified his son as the other bomber, the Lebanese army said in a statement.
An al-Qaida-linked group, the Lebanese Abdullah Azzam Brigades, claimed responsibility for the attack Tuesday, one of the deadliest in a series of attacks targeting Hezbollah and Shiite strongholds in Lebanon in recent months. They said it was payback for the military support that Iran and Hezbollah provide to the Syrian government of Bashar Assad against the mainly Sunni rebels fighting to overthrow his rule.
Officials say Abu Daher was a follower of Sheik Ahmad al-Assir, a preacher from Sidon known for his fiery sermons denouncing Hezbollah. The sheik and his hard-line supporters battled Lebanese soldiers briefly backed by Hezbollah supporters in June in Sidon.
The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi threats, said Abu Daher also was a fan of al-Qaida-linked websites and vowed he would die in a suicide bombing. El-Mohammed's mother, Fatima, told the local television station Al-Jadeed that she has not seen her son since before the June fighting. She described him as a "stubborn kid" who worked as a car mechanic. She added that her son was an observant Muslim who performed daily prayers and fasted during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
"I did not expect him to do this," she said. "He killed innocent civilians and Islam does not permit that." Al-Assir has been at large since June having eluded attempts by Lebanese authorities to arrest him. Many of his followers have been at large as well and it was unclear if el-Mohammed was a follower of the sheik. El-Mohammed's mother said the family did not know if he was with al-Assir.
Lebanese security officials said el-Mohammed's father and two siblings were being questioned Saturday. They spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.