State Department Says Lebanon Embassy Shooter Wore ‘ISIS Insignia’

Lebanese army take security measures in the region after an armed attack is reportedly org
Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu via Getty

U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said on Wednesday that the man accused of opening fire on the United States Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, “was wearing what appeared to be ISIS insignia.”

Miller said the State Department is “conducting a full investigation with the Lebanese authorities into the actual motivations.”

“The gunman was arrested after the incident. The U.S. embassy remains in contact with the Lebanese authorities as they investigate the incident. In terms of embassy security, the embassy was secured immediately,” he said.

According to Lebanese media reports, at least one gunman opened fire on the United States embassy on Wednesday morning, kicking off a half-hour gun battle with security forces.

Videos posted to social media appeared to show a man clad in a military-style tactical vest and helmet wielding a rifle near the embassy. The man’s vest bore the name “Islamic State” written in Arabic, plus the initials “I” and “S,” a detail Miller seemed to confirm in his press briefing.

“He’s been shooting at the embassy for a while now; no one has stopped him. He’s just walking up and down,” an onlooker could be heard saying in a video.

An eyewitness told the Associated Press he heard “around 15 to 20 rounds of gunfire” during the battle, but was prevented from seeing more by army forces that cordoned off the area.

“Army members in the area responded to the sources of fire, wounding the shooter. He was arrested and transferred to a hospital for treatment,” the Lebanese army said.

Some Lebanese officials told the media they believed the gunman was alone, while others said up to four attackers may have been involved in the incident. The primary suspect was injured during the battle, and was later taken into custody.

Lebanese officials described the gunman as a Syrian national who lived in the Lebanese border town of Majdal Anjar. The Lebanese army raided both Majdal Anjar and the nearby town of Suweiri on Wednesday, arresting three of the suspect’s relatives and two of his associates.

The United States embassy, which is actually located in a northern suburb of Beirut called Awkar, is a secure facility with limited access and multiple defensive checkpoints. The original Beirut embassy was hit by a suicide attack in 1983 that killed 63 people.

The new embassy was attacked by a gunman last September, with no injuries reported. The previous attack was apparently conducted by someone with a personal grudge against embassy personnel, rather than a terrorist operative.

The embassy has been on guard ever since Hamas attacked Israeli civilians on October 7, as angry and violent pro-Palestinian demonstrations have been held outside the grounds several times.

The embassy released a security alert on Wednesday describing the shooting incident and expressing gratitude for “the quick reaction of host country security forces and our Embassy security team.”

The alert repeated advice from the current Lebanon Travel Advisory that American citizens should “avoid travel to the Lebanon-Israel border area, the Lebanon-Syria border area, and refugee settlements.”

“In all parts of Lebanon, you should avoid demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings or protests,” the embassy said.


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