Al-Qaida Claims Credit for Jordan Suicide Blasts

Al Qaeda has claimed credit for yesterday’s coordinated suicide bombing attacks in Amman, Jordan which killed at least 56 people.

Al-Qaida Claims Jordan Suicide Blasts (AP)

Al-Qaida claimed responsibility Thursday for three suicide bomb attacks on Western hotels that killed at least 56 people in the Jordanian capital, and the terror group’s Web posting linked the deadly blasts to the war in Iraq.

Police continued a broad security lockdown and authorities sent DNA samples for testing to identify the attackers. Land borders were reopened after being closed for nearly 12 hours. The government lowered the death toll by one but gave no reason.

The al-Qaida claim, which could not be independently verified, said Jordan became a target because it was “a backyard garden for the enemies of the religion, Jews and crusaders … a filthy place for the traitors … and a center for prostitution.”

The nearly simultaneous attacks late Wednesday also wounded more than 115 people, police said. Police detained several people overnight, although it was unclear if they were of suspects or witnesses.

The claim of responsibility, signed in the name of the spokesman for Al-Qaida in Iraq, said the attacks put the United States on notice that the “backyard camp for the crusader army is now in the range of fire of the holy warriors.”

Iraqi government spokesman Laith Kubba said the attack should alert Jordan that it needed to stop playing host to former members of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

“I hope that these attacks will wake up the `Jordanian street’ to end their sympathy with Saddam’s remnants … who exploit the freedom in this country to have a safe shelter to plot their criminal acts against Iraqis,” he said.

Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Muasher said shortly after the blasts that al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was a “prime suspect.” The Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi is known for his animosity to the country’s Hashemite monarchy. The claim of responsibility did not name King Abdullah II but twice referred to the “tyrant of Jordan.”

[No word on whether reporter Jamal Halaby’s editor was out of town yesterday. These sentences appear to have been entered randomly. -ed.]

Once it became apparent that there were three attacks and that they were nearly simultaneous, al Qaeda was the prime suspect.

What’s particularly interesting is that the group seems to have come full circle. Its hallmark under Osama bin Laden was the focusing of the energies of its various constituent groups away from their insufficiently Islamic domestic governments and onto the United States and other Western foes. Increasingly, however, al-Zarqawi seems to be directing the violence back against Muslim targets.

Andrew Cochran offers a stream-of-consciousness post with lots of links and info including,

Walid Phares on MSNBC: suicide bombers use enticements offered by jihadists – Jordanian security services are good but can’t stop Al Qaeda and affiliated jihadists; jihadists used Jordan as “safe haven” but apparently concluded Jordan should now be target; this tarnishes Jordan’s image of stability and begins “difficult time” for Jordan. Al-Zarqawi the primary suspect; a native Jordanian and already sentenced to death in absentia there – police already detaining possible suspects. Evan Kohlmann among the premier experts in the world on Al-Zarqawi; see his Iraq leadership chart, his post on Al Qaeda’s attempted rocket attack on U.S. warships in Aqaba on August 19, and other information on his siteMatthew Levitt and associate Julie Sawyer wrote last year on “Zarqawi’s Jordanian Agenda” on AZ’s leading role in terrorism in Jordan. CNN cites U.S. CT officials saying recent turnover of Jordanian officials might have given terrorists room to attack. Mirrors the timed multiple bombings in Bali, New Delhi, and Sharm-el-Sheikh, but Amman bombings were “walk-ins” and not by auto. If you need information about loved ones who were possibly there, call the State Department line at 888-407-4747.

Athena predicts, “This will backfire for these terrorists. The people of Jordan will protest this, most likely in the capital. Pictures of Zarqawi will burn.” I’ve been predicting a backlash for two years or more now; so far, the signs are few.

Athena also notes that she predicted this attack some time back. So did Daniel Aronstein.

Michelle Malkin rounds up other reactions.

Haaretz reports: No truth to report of Israeli evacuations before Amman bombs

There is no truth to reports that Israelis staying at the Radisson SAS hotel in Amman on Wednesday were evacuated by Jordanian security forces before the bombing that took place there. The Israelis were escorted back to Israel by Jordanian security personnel only after the attacks had taken place, contrary to earlier reports.

Good to know.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.