- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 13, 2005

AMMAN, Jordan — King Abdullah II called for a global fight against terrorism yesterday as Jordan acknowledged for the first time that al Qaeda in Iraq used foreign suicide bombers to attack Amman hotels, killing 57.

The devastating strike was masterminded by Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab Zarqawi, signaling his group is able to launch terror attacks outside war-ravaged Iraq.

King Abdullah called Zarqawi a growing threat to the Middle East and put the international community on notice that it must cooperate to fight terrorists.

“Terrorism is a sick and cross-border phenomenon. Therefore, eradicating it is the whole world’s responsibility,” he told the state-run Petra news agency. “The body parts we saw in Amman we see every day in brotherly Iraq and have also seen in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and other countries around the world.”

King Abdullah later told CNN that four suicide bombers carried out Wednesday’s attacks, suggesting one was the “spouse” of another militant. His remarks seemed to confirm al Qaeda’s claim that a husband and wife were among the bombers.

“I think that to walk into the lobby of a hotel to see a wedding procession and to take your wife or your spouse with you into that wedding and to blow yourself up [showed] these people are insane,” King Abdullah said.

Al Qaeda in Iraq said four Iraqis — including a husband and wife — wearing suicide belts carried out Wednesday’s attacks against the Grand Hyatt, Radisson and Days Inn hotels.

Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Muasher had told a news conference that the bodies of three attackers had been identified and that there was “no indication of a woman among the bodies of the perpetrators.”

Mr. Muasher, who had said an official investigation confirmed Al Qaeda was behind the blasts, declined to comment on the bombers’ nationalities, but said they had entered Jordan from abroad.

A security source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, had told Reuters the bodies of the suicide bombers were those of Iraqi citizens, but gave no more details.

The near-simultaneous blasts against hotels frequented by Western security contractors and diplomats were among the worst attacks in Jordan’s modern history.

Jordan, a close U.S. ally and one of two Arab nations to have peace treaties with Israel, had been spared al Qaeda-linked attacks that have hit other countries in the region.

Most of the victims were Jordanians attending wedding parties at the Grand Hyatt and Radisson hotels. Three Americans were killed in the attacks, a U.S. Embassy spokesman said.

The bombings sparked outrage in the small desert kingdom of about 5 million people, with thousands of Jordanians from the capital, Amman, to the birthplace of Zarqawi, in the bleak industrial town of Zarqa, taking part in protests to denounce Zarqawi and rally behind the king.

Since the blasts, police have rounded up scores of people in a nationwide hunt for the attackers’ accomplices, including Sunni Muslim underground cells.

Mr. Muasher said there were “new arrests” in connection with the bombings and security sources said at least 100 suspects, including many Iraqis, were being detained.

Jordan is home to a large exiled Iraqi community, many of whom fled the war and its aftermath to settle there, creating a real estate boom that has boosted Jordan’s aid-dependant economy. It is also a hub for Iraq’s reconstruction efforts.

But Amman’s support for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq angered many Jordanians, many of whom are of Palestinian origin and are hostile toward U.S. policies in the region.

A police source said security forces were searching homes of Iraqi workers in poorer parts of the capital and conducting other searches in lodgings popular with Arab tourists.

Suspicion about the attackers quickly fell on Iraqi Sunni guerrillas and terrorists.

Authorities have warned that Zarqawi, who has a $25 million bounty on his head, had ordered jihadists to strike targets outside Iraq.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is touring the Middle East and Asia, was expected to visit Jordan tomorrow.

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