- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 30, 2003

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30 (UPI) — The al Qaida operative who orchestrated the murder of a U.S. diplomat in Amman, Jordan, last October is residing in Baghdad, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told a Senate panel Thursday.

"I'll say that it's clear that al Qaida is harbored, to some extent, in Iraq, that there is a presence in Iraq," Armitage told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He then referred to "a recent assassination of our diplomat in Amman, Mr. Foley, that was apparently orchestrated by an al Qaida member who's resident in Baghdad."

Laurence Foley was in Jordan with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The information presented by Armitage clashes with recent statements from the Jordanian authorities regarding the whereabouts of Foley's murderers. After arresting most of the men, the Jordanians in December said the ringleader of the cell that orchestrated the assassination attempt was also wanted by the authorities in Iraq and was currently residing in northern Iraq, a section of the country under air protection from the United States and the United Kingdom and ruled by two Kurdish parties.

Although Armitage did not name the al Qaida member, it has been reported that he is Fadel Nazzal al-Khalayleh, also known as Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi. This — according to U.S. officials — is the individual President Bush said last December had sought and received medical treatment in Baghdad last year. But, some have said that he has since left Iraq's capital.

Armitage said that the fact that the man who ordered Foley's murder is in Baghdad would be part of the Bush administration's case to the United Nations next week linking al Qaida to Iraq. "This will be part of the information that Secretary Powell is going to impart in some more detail. They're busy back home right now trying to declassify as much as possible to give him a pretty full case."

On Monday Secretary of State Colin Powell authorized an independent U.S. investigation into Foley's murder. U.S. laws require such panels to be convened six months after U.S. officials are killed or die under unusual circumstances abroad. Leading the panel will be former US ambassador to Jordan Wesley Egan.

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