Lebanese authorities charge US Embassy shooter with affiliation to militant Islamic State group

BEIRUT (AP) — A judge at Lebanon's military court on Tuesday charged the gunman who opened fire at the U.S. embassy near Beirut with being affiliated to the militant Islamic State group, security and judicial officials said.

Lebanese soldiers shot and arrested the gunman in early June, later identified as Kaiss Farraj from Syria, after a shootout that lasted almost 30 minutes and injured an embassy security guard.

The Islamic State group has not claimed responsibility for the attack, nor has any other group.

The attack took place as tensions simmered in the tiny Mediterranean country, where fighting between Hezbollah militants and Israeli troops has displaced thousands along the border, following years of political deadlock and economic hardship.

Lebanese media published photos that appear to show a bloodied attacker wearing a black vest with the words “Islamic State” written in Arabic and the English initials “I” and “S.”

Judicial and security officials familiar with the investigation previously told The Associated Press that Farraj initially appeared to be a lone wolf and not linked to any extremist group. The Lebanese Army soon after the shootout raided the eastern Lebanese towns of Majdal Anjar and nearby Suweiri, where it arrested three relatives of the suspect and two other people believed to be associated with him.

The two officials added that Government Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Fadi Akiki also charged two others who sold weapons to the gunman with selling unlicensed firearms. They spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

The officials said that Farraj, who was shot three times in the shootout, is in poor health and remains unconscious.

In 1983, a deadly bombing attack on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut killed 63 people. U.S. officials blame the attack on the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Following that attack, the embassy was moved from central Beirut to the Christian suburb of Aukar, north of the capital. Another bomb attack struck the new location on Sept. 20, 1984.

In September 2023, Lebanese security forces detained a Lebanese man who opened fire outside the U.S. Embassy. There were no casualties in that attack.

In October 2023, hundreds of protesters clashed with Lebanese security forces in demonstrations near the U.S. Embassy in support of Gaza’s people and the militant group Hamas in its war with Israel.