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Jordan Bombs Came From Iraq

November 13, 2005|Ashraf Khalil | Times Staff Writer

AMMAN, Jordan — The team of four Iraqis who committed last week's coordinated hotel bombings crossed the border days earlier with ready-made suicide belts, a Jordanian official said Saturday.

A senior Jordanian security officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that a woman was among the bombers in Wednesday's attacks, which left 57 people dead in three Amman hotels. He said the attacks were ordered by Abu Musab Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born militant who leads Al Qaeda in Iraq.

The new information matches that of an Internet statement posted Friday in Zarqawi's name, which described the bombers as four Iraqis, including a husband and wife.

The identities of the bombers are expected to be announced as early as today.

The official said the remains of a woman were found at the Radisson SAS hotel, where the explosion ripped through a wedding party. The woman apparently was not one of the wedding guests.

The official theorized that the Iraqi woman and her husband came as a couple to more easily blend into the wedding crowd. It was unclear whether she also carried a bomb.

The team crossed into Jordan on Monday and stayed in the same Amman safe house. The person who rented the house shortly before their arrival remains at large, the official said.

They arrived carrying completed explosives belts, apparently made from Iraqi military materials. The official described the belts as sophisticated devices capable of being transported on long overland journeys without danger of accidental detonation.

The belts contained RDX, a military explosive that the official said was not found in Jordan. The detonators were salvaged from Yugoslav-made hand grenades such as those previously used by the Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein, the official said.

Although an estimated 500,000 Iraqis live in Jordan, the security official said there was no evidence that the bombers received any support or assistance from the local Iraqi community.

The official described Zarqawi as obsessed with striking back at the Jordanian government, which imprisoned him for three years for extremist activities before releasing him as part of a general amnesty in 1999.

In particular, Zarqawi bears a grudge against the current Jordanian head of counter-terrorism, who was one of his interrogators in prison, the official said.

Zarqawi has twice tried to assassinate his former nemesis -- once with explosives attached to his car, and another time with a sniper attack. He was unsuccessful.

"We're going to see who gets who in the end," the official said.

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