- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 20, 2005

AQABA, Jordan (Agence France-Presse) — Jordanian security forces yesterday arrested an Iraqi man thought to be one of four terrorists behind a rocket attack on U.S. warships moored in the port of Aqaba and a neighboring Israeli resort.

“Security forces arrested the Iraqi suspect while he was driving his car,” a security source said on the condition of anonymity, without saying where the suspect had been arrested.

The unidentified Iraqi was one of four suspects being sought by authorities who ordered a security clampdown after Friday’s attack, which was claimed by an al Qaeda-linked group.

Three Katyusha rockets were fired from Aqaba, one of them missing two U.S. warships moored nearby, but instead killing a Jordanian soldier as it smashed into a warehouse. No U.S. servicemen were harmed in the attack.

Another rocket landed close to the airport in the adjacent Israeli resort of Eilat. The third struck a site near a military hospital.

Jordanian officials said additional rockets were found in the depot from where the Katyushas were fired.

“Four rockets were seized in the depot by police, which makes us think the attackers were intending to launch seven rockets,” said a Jordanian official on the condition of anonymity.

The Jordanian owner of the depot was arrested, a second official said, adding that police had taken in dozens of Arabs of various nationalities late Friday to check their identities.

Officials said the depot was rented to a group of four Egyptians and Iraqis just a few days ago.

In a continuing search for the perpetrators, security forces surrounded two neighborhoods in Aqaba late yesterday.

Police also swept the beach areas in search of explosives, witnesses said.

Army and police set up checkpoints at the entrances and exits of the bustling resort town, where vehicles were searched and hundreds of people were questioned.

A total of 12 roadblocks were set up on the 220-mile road between Aqaba and Amman, while checkpoints also appeared in the capital.

The attack was claimed in an Internet statement by a group that previously said it was behind the deadly bombings on resorts in Egypt during the past year.

It was the biggest attack on the U.S. Navy since the October 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, in which 17 American sailors died.

Jordanian Interior Minister Awni Yervas refused to disclose the identities of the Arab suspects, but did reveal that rocket launchers were found in the depot from which the Katyushas were fired.

“The inquiry is continuing in secret, and the authorities will only make public information that does not cause harm to the investigation,” he said.

King Abdullah II, on a visit to Russia, condemned what he called a “criminal attack,” officials said.

Jordan would “continue its message of justice and tolerance and continue to show a true image of Islam that the terrorists were seeking to deform,” the king said.

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