- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 30, 2002

AMMAN, Jordan Jordanian officials detained dozens of Muslim militants for questioning yesterday but dismissed assertions by a little-known group that it was responsible for the killing of American diplomat Lawrence Foley.
The group, calling itself Shurafaa' al-Urdun, or the Honorables of Jordan, sent a statement to the London-based Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi on Monday saying that Mr. Foley was killed to protest U.S. support for Israel and the "bloodshed in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Mr. Foley, a 60-year-old administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development, was walking to his car on Monday when a gunman opened fire, police said. The gunman escaped.
Jordanian authorities stepped up security in the capital after the assassination, the first killing of an American diplomat in decades.
U.S. officials say that they are working with Jordanian investigators, and have not ruled out terrorism.
But Jordanian officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity dismissed the statement from Shurafaa' al-Urdun, which was unknown until last year when it said it was behind the killing of an Israeli businessman near where Mr. Foley lived. Security officials also rejected the group's contention.
A government official said that "dozens" of militants known to police were detained for questioning by intelligence officials, but some were later released. None was charged.
The official declined to provide details, but indicated that some belonged to small militant cells or had been apprehended or jailed in the past.
One extremist, who had been sought for an attack on a police station last year, was apprehended after a shootout with police near the southern town of Maan, about 150 miles south of the Jordanian capital, Amman. But police in Amman said that Mohammed Ahmad al-Chalabi, also known as Abu-Sayyaf, had no connection to Mr. Foley's assassination.
Police also were checking witness reports that a man wearing a mask was seen outside Mr. Foley's house around the time of the killing.
Police questioned construction workers at a building project across the street from Mr. Foley's villa and other witnesses in the affluent neighborhood.
The U.S. Embassy in Amman was closed for all but emergency business as diplomats made arrangements to send Mr. Foley's body to the United States.
Jordan's King Abdullah II and his wife, Queen Rania, visited the U.S. Embassy, where both signed a condolence book. They also met briefly with Mr. Foley's widow, Virginia, and later with USAID employees.
An embassy statement warned Americans to "exercise caution, be aware of their surroundings and vary travel routes and times."
U.S. Ambassador Edward Gnehm said the shooting was a "cowardly, criminal act." He also said that there had been no threats or warnings and denied that security had been lax outside the fortress-like walls of the sprawling embassy compound.
The killing shocked Jordan's pro-Western government, which has maintained close ties to Washington despite rising public anger over U.S. support for Israel and preparations for war against neighboring Iraq.
More than half of Jordan's 5 million people are of Palestinian origin, some with close ties to Palestinian extremist groups. Jordan and Iraq maintain close commercial links, with Jordan exporting food, medicines and clothing in exchange for discounted oil.

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