(Reuters) - A militant group linked to al Qaeda said on Wednesday that a suicide bomber was responsible for a mystery explosion on a Japanese supertanker a week ago near the Strait of Hormuz. Analysts are sceptical about the claim.
Here are some details on the group and its branches:
— The Abdullah Azzam Brigades are named after Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian who led Islamic militants in Afghanistan and was killed in 1989 by a roadside bomb.
— Azzam is regarded as the one-time spiritual mentor of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
— Previous major attacks came from a battalion in the group named after Ziad al-Jarrah, a Lebanese militant who was one of the group of 19 who carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.
— The tanker attack was claimed by the Azzam Brigades Yusuf al-Uyayri Battalion, named after a Saudi al Qaeda militant who was killed in 2003.
- Uyayri was one of the first operational leaders of al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, which joined Yemeni militants in 2009 to launch Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. AQAP claimed responsibility for the failed bombing of a U.S.-bound airliner in December.
— The Brigades generally operated from the Sinai Peninsula, and has carried out attacks primarily on targets in Egypt, Jordan, and Israel. But this recent claim could suggest they have growing ties with the Yemen-based wing of al Qaeda.
— Links to the Gulf region could increase interest in striking economic targets in the world’s top oil exporting corridor, a tactic stressed by Yemen-based AQAP.
— September 2009: The Ziad al-Jarrah battalion of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for two Katyusha rockets from south Lebanon that landed in the northern Israeli coastal town of Nahariya.
— August 2005: The Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed a failed attempt to strike two U.S. warships in Jordan’s Aqaba port, with rockets instead hitting a warehouse and a hospital and killing one Jordanian soldier.
— July 2005: The Brigades claimed an attack on the Egyptian Sinai resort town Sharm el-Sheikh, where two car bombs and a suitcase ripped through hotels and shopping areas, killing 67 and wounding more than 200.
— April 2005: A suicide bomber struck at foreign tourists near Egypt’s most famous museum in Cairo, while his sister and girlfriend opened fire on a tourist bus. The attacks killed three people. Two groups - the Mujahideen of Egypt and the Martyr Abdullah Azzam Brigades - said on an Islamist website that their people carried out the attacks.
— October 2004: A group calling itself the Martyr Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed truck bomb attacks that killed 34 people and wounded 120 at the Hilton hotel resort in Taba, an Egyptian Sinai town on the border with Israel, along with two explosions that hit backpacker beaches in Nuweiba, south of Taba.
Sources: Reuters/Janes World Insurgency