Lebanese authorities say they have identified the two men who launched a double suicide attack on the Iranian embassy which killed 25 people in Hezbollah’s southern Beirut bastion.
This week’s double bombing was the first attack in Lebanon against interests of predominantly Shiite Iran, which is a key ally of the Syrian regime as it battles a 32-month uprising.
An Al-Qaeda-affiliated group claimed responsibility for the attack. It said it was targeting the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.
Police say both bombers were supporters of Al-Qaeda and Sheikh Ahmed Assir, a radical Sunni preacher in southern Lebanon.
Assir has been on the run since his supporters clashed with Lebanese troops in the summer, killing 17 soldiers.
The eldest bomber, Mouin Abu Dahr, was identified by DNA testing.
His father Adnan Abu Dahr came forward when photos of the suspects were published.
A Facebook page apparently belonging to Mouin Abu Dahr expressed support for Al-Qaeda and for Assir, whom he vowed to “avenge”.
Assir, also from Sidon, had frequently expressed support for the Syrian uprising and encouraged Lebanese Sunnis to join it.
A close friend, who asked not to be identified, said Mouin became far more religious after a recent trip to Sweden, where he fell under the influence of a radical imam.
He started talking about martyrdom and saying his family was not religious enough… He said he would commit an act that everyone would talk about –A friend of Mouin Abu Dahr who did not want to be identified.?
“After he returned from Sweden, he started talking about martyrdom and saying his family was not religious enough,” the friend said.
After Assir was chased into hiding, the friend remembers Mouin speaking of an injustice against Sunnis and making an ominous vow.
“He said he would commit an act that everyone would talk about.”
The army confirmed that the younger suicide attacker was Abu Dahr, from the southern Sunni-majority town of Sidon.
A security official said he was a Palestinian, who also lived in southern Lebanon.
Lebanon’s ever-feuding factions have been bitterly divided over the Syrian civil war, which has killed an estimated 120,000 people since it began in March 2011.
Some 800,000 displaced Syrians have taken refuge in Lebanon and a string of recent bombings and other attacks have raised fears the conflict could spill over the border.