View Full Version : Jordan's close call shows potential al-Qaida-Iraq link

09-12-2004, 08:43 PM
Jordan's close call shows potential al-Qaida-Iraq link

May 13, 2004 -- The revelation of an attempted chemical attack in Jordan by al-Qaida ally/operative Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi flies in the face of the now-familiar refrains of "Iraq didn't have WMD," and "there is no evidence of an Iraq-al-Qaida link," and the oh-so-popular, "Saddam posed no threat."
Like a howling desert sandstorm, the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal has almost totally obscured our view of the surrounding terrain. There is no doubt that we need to get to the bottom of things -- quickly and publicly. But let's step back from the storm to look at another key development that has been largely overlooked.

On April 17, Jordan's King Abdullah announced that his security services had foiled a terrorist plot to carry out large-scale suicide bomb attacks in Amman. Since at least early April, they had been tracking an al-Qaida cell, and fortunately intercepted the cell's members before they could carry out their plan. The plot's targets included the prime minister's office, the Jordanian intelligence headquarters and, of course, the American embassy.

Several aspects of the thwarted plot make it so significant. The terrorists' ruthless plan was well-orchestrated and showed the kind of brutal sophistication that has been the hallmark of al-Qaida operations. Their intent was to carry out closely-coordinated detonations of car and truck bombs. Two or more explosive-laden vehicles were to be used on each target, and makeshift battering rams were welded on the lead trucks so they could crash through protective walls and barriers.

Most chilling, this was to be al-Qaida's first chemical attack, according to the Jordanian investigators. Containers of unidentified chemical agents were allegedly found loaded in some of the vehicles, which were apparently meant to be scattered by the explosions in a mile-wide toxic cloud over downtown Amman. Almost 20 tons of explosives and chemicals were found, and Jordanian officials stated that had the attack succeeded, it could have decapitated the government, taken 20,000 lives and caused devastation worse than 9/11.

Two other important details make the Amman chem-bomb plot particularly salient. First, in a televised confession, the captured leader of the cell said he was acting on the orders of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi the bloodthirsty murderer behind so many recent bombings in Iraq, the Madrid subway attack and now the horrific execution of civilian contractor Nicholas Berg. Second, King Abdullah stated publicly that some of the trucks and al-Qaida operatives involved in the plot, along with a quantity of "poison gas," entered Jordan from Syria.

As you may recall, there have been numerous unconfirmed reports that Iraqi WMD stocks were sent across the border into Syria before and during the U.S. invasion last year. The veracity of such reports is in question, especially the claims of Israeli officials who have a built-in motivation to point the finger at an old adversary. Nevertheless, there are other, more credible sources alleging that Saddam stashed WMD in Syria. Those include the head of U.S. satellite imagery intelligence, a Syrian intelligence officer leaking inside information, and weapons inspector David Kay.

Let's see what we have here. Zarqawi is the man Colin Powell presented to the United Nations as a living link between Saddam's regime and the al-Qaida network. Zarqawi also has a record of working with deadly toxins -- and possibly chemical or biological agents -- for use as terrorist weapons. We also have independent sources claiming that Iraqi WMD stocks were hidden in Syria. Now we discover an al-Qaida plot in Jordan, directed by Zarqawi, to conduct a mass-terror attack using deadly chemicals, which reportedly came from Syria.

The revelation of an attempted chemical attack by an al-Qaida ally/operative flies in the face of the now-familiar refrains of "Iraq didn't have WMD," and "there is no evidence of an Iraq-al-Qaida link," and the oh-so-popular, "Saddam posed no threat."

I'm not saying this constitutes definitive proof, but it does change the tenor of the argument about reasons for the war. President Bush led us into Iraq in order to minimize the chance that fanatical terrorists might try to obtain terrible weapons of mass destruction so they could kill on a massive scale. Zarqawi's chem-bomb plot shows that was no idle worry or contrived justification.


The curious lack of curiosity about WMD
May 6, 2004
Larry Elder

"Week after week after week after week," said Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., about President Bush's rationale for going to war with Iraq, "we were told lie after lie after lie after lie." Were we?

Jordan recently seized 20 tons of chemicals trucked in by confessed al Qaeda members who brought the stuff in from Syria. The chemicals included VX, Sarin and 70 others. But the media seems curiously incurious about whether one could reasonably trace this stuff back to Iraq. Had the terrorists released a "toxic cloud," Jordanian officials say 80,000 would have died!

So, I interviewed terrorism expert John Loftus, who once held some of the highest security clearances in the world. Loftus, a former Army officer, served as a Justice Department prosecutor. He investigated CIA cases of Nazi war criminals for the U.S. attorney general. Author of several books, Loftus once received a Pulitzer Prize nomination.

John Loftus: There's a lot of reason to think (the source of the chemicals) might be Iraq. We captured Iraqi members of al Qaeda, who've been trained in Iraq, planned for the mission in Iraq, and now they're in Jordan with nerve gas. That's not the kind of thing you buy in a grocery store. You have to have obtained it from someplace.

Larry Elder: They couldn't have obtained it from Syria?

Loftus: Syria does have the ability to produce certain kinds of nerve gasses, but in small quantities. The large stockpiles were known to be in Iraq. The best U.S. and allied intelligence say that in the 10 weeks before the Iraq war, Saddam's Russian adviser told him to get rid of all the nerve gas. It would be useless against U.S. troops; the rubber suits were immune to it. So they shipped it across the border to Syria and Lebanon and buried it. Now, in the last few weeks, there's a controversy that Syria has been trying to get rid of this stuff.

They're selling it to al Qaeda is one supposition. We know the Sudanese government demanded that the Syrian government empty its warehouse in Khartoum where they've been hiding illegal missiles along with components of weapons of mass destruction. But there's no doubt these guys confessed on Jordanian television that they received the training for this mission in Iraq. . . . And from the description it appears this is the form of nerve gas known as VX. It's very rare, and very tough to manufacture . . . one of the most destructive chemical mass-production weapons that you can use. . . . They wanted to build three clouds, a mile across, of toxic gas. A whole witch's brew of nasty chemicals that were going to go into this poison cloud, and this would have gone over shopping malls, hospitals . . .

Elder: You said that the Russians told Saddam, "There is going to be an invasion. Get rid of your chemical and biological weapons."

Loftus: Sure. It would only bring the United Nations down on their heads if they were shown to really have weapons of mass destruction. It's not generally known, but the CIA has found 41 different material breaches where Saddam did have a weapons of mass destruction program of various types. It was completely illegal. But no one could find the stockpiles. And the liberal press seems to be focusing on that.

Elder: It seems to me that this is a huge, huge story.

Loftus: It's embarrassing to the (press). They've staked their reputations that this stuff wasn't there. And now all of a sudden we have al Qaeda agents from Iraq showing up with weapons of mass destruction.

Elder: David Kay said, in an interim report, that there was a possibility that WMD components were shipped to Syria.

Loftus: A possibility? We had a Syrian journalist who defected to Paris in January. The guy is dying of cancer, and he said, "Look, my friends in Syrian intelligence told me exactly where the stuff is buried." He named three sites in Syria, and the Israelis have confirmed the three sites. They know where the stuff is, but the problem is that the United States can't just go around invading Arab countries. . . . We know from Israeli and defectors' intelligence that the son of the Syrian defense minister was paid 50 million bucks to bring the stuff across the border and bury it.

Elder: Why would al Qaeda attack Jordan?

Loftus: Jordan is an ally of the United States. It's at peace with Israel. And Jordan has a long history of trying to prosecute terrorists. . . . There are a lot of reasons. . . . They want to make an example of them. They want to terrorize as many of the Arab states as possible. This is sort of a political dream for the president. The worst nightmare is al Qaeda gets weapons of mass destruction from Iraq. And it looks like it's coming true.

A Syria/Iraq/al Qaeda/WMD connection? Why, this calls for a congressional investigation.


Al Qaeda's Poison Gas
The foiled attack in Jordan might have killed thousands.

Thursday, April 29, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT

Jordanian authorities say that the death toll from a bomb and poison-gas attack they foiled this month could have reached 80,000. We guess the fact that most major media are barely covering this story means WMD isn't news anymore until there's a body count.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi--the man cited by the Bush Administration as its strongest evidence of prewar links between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, and the current ringleader of anti-coalition terrorism in Iraq--may be behind the plot, which would be al Qaeda's first ever attempt to use chemical weapons. The targets included the U.S. Embassy in Amman. Yet as of yesterday, most news organizations hadn't probed the story, if at all, beyond the initial wire-service copy.

Perhaps the problem here is that covering this story might mean acknowledging that Tony Blair and George W. Bush have been exactly right to warn of the confluence of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Jordan's King Abdullah called it a "major, major operation" that would have "decapitated" his government. "Anyone who doubts the terrorists' desire to obtain and use these weapons only needs to look at this example," said Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.

More details of the plot emerged Monday night with the dramatic broadcast on Jordanian television of confessions from the terror cell's leader and associates. The idea apparently was to crash trucks--fitted with special battering rams and filled with some 20 tons of explosives--through the gates of targets that included the U.S. Embassy, the Jordanian Prime Minister's office and the national intelligence headquarters. The explosions notwithstanding, the real damage was reportedly to come from dispersing a toxic cloud of chemicals, which included nerve and blister agents.

Anonymous U.S. officials have been quoted playing down the WMD wrinkle, suggesting the chemicals may have been meant to merely amplify a conventional explosion. But then much of our "intelligence" bureaucracy is still wedded to the discredited notion that secular tyrants and fundamentalist terrorists don't cooperate (see Hezbollah). They may also be defensive about their earlier, dismissive assessments of Zarqawi's significance.

Plotter Hussein Sharif Hussein was shown on Jordanian television saying the aim was "carrying out the first suicide attack to be launched by al Qaeda using chemicals." A Jordanian scientist described a toxic cloud that could have spread for a mile or more. So was it really a foiled WMD attack? Here's hoping someone is trying to get to the bottom of this.

The provenance of the operation is also of note. The bomb trucks and funds are said to have entered Jordan via Syria. Last fall General James R. Clapper Jr., director of satellite intelligence for the Pentagon, said there had been an unusual amount of traffic--including possibly WMDs--between Iraq and Syria in the lead-up to war.
The terror cell's ringleader, Jordanian Azmi Jayyousi, said he was acting on the orders of Zarqawi, whom he first met at an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan: "I took courses, poisons high level, then I pledged allegiance to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi." Mr. Jayyousi said this attack had been plotted from Zarqawi's new base of operations in Iraq. A Jordanian court sentenced Zarqawi to death this month for plotting the 2002 murder of U.S diplomat Laurence Foley in Amman.

Prime Minister Blair has said it's simply "a matter of time unless we act and take a stand before terrorism and weapons of mass destruction come together." According to Jordanian authorities, that sometime was intended to be last week. That strikes us as news.


Jordan says major al Qaeda plot disrupted
Authorities: Chemical cloud would have been released in Amman
Monday, April 26, 2004 Posted: 1954 GMT (0354 HKT)

Jordanian officials seized tons of chemicals in what they say was an Al Qaeda chemical attack plot.

Jordanians say they thwarted an al Qaeda bomb plot that would have been worse than 9/11 attack. See the suspected terrorists' taped confessions on CNN's NewsNight with Aaron Brown at 10 pm ET.

AMMAN, Jordan (CNN) -- Jordanian authorities said Monday they have broken up an alleged al Qaeda plot that would have unleashed a deadly cloud of chemicals in the heart of Jordan's capital, Amman.

The plot would have been more deadly than anything al Qaeda has done before, including the September 11 attacks, according to the Jordanian government.

Among the alleged targets were the U.S. Embassy, the Jordanian prime minister's office and the headquarters of Jordanian intelligence.

U.S. intelligence officials expressed caution about whether the chemicals captured by Jordanian authorities were intended to create a "toxic cloud" chemical weapon, but they said the large quantities involved were at a minimum intended to create "massive explosions."

Officials said there is debate within the CIA and other U.S. agencies over whether the plotters were planning to kill innocent people using toxic chemicals.

At issue is the presence of a large quantity of sulfuric acid among the tons of chemicals seized by Jordanian authorities. Sulfuric acid can be used as a blister agent, but it more commonly can increase the size of conventional explosions, according to U.S. officials.

Nevertheless, U.S. intelligence officials called the capture of tons of chemicals that together could create several large conventional explosions "a big deal."

The plot was within days of being carried out, Jordanian officials said, when security forces broke it up April 20.

In a nighttime raid in Amman, Jordanian security forces moved in on the terrorist cell. After the shooting stopped, four men were dead. Jordanian authorities said. They said at least three others were arrested, including Azmi Jayyousi, the cell's suspected ringleader, whom Jordanian intelligence alleges was responsible for planning and recruiting.

On a confession shown on state-run Jordanian television, Jayyousi said he took orders from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a suspected terrorist leader who has been linked to al Qaeda and whom U.S. officials have said is behind some attacks in Iraq.

"I took explosives courses, poisons high level, then I pledged allegiance to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, to obey him without any questioning," Jayyousi said.

Jordanian authorities said Azmi Jayyousi was the suspected ringleader in an alleged al Qaeda plot.
Jordanian intelligence suspects Jayyousi returned from Iraq in January after a meeting with al-Zarqawi in which they allegedly plotted to hit the three targets in Amman.

In a series of raids, the Jordanians said, they seized 20 tons of chemicals and numerous explosives. Also seized were three trucks equipped with specially modified plows, apparently designed to crash through security barricades.

The first alleged target was the Jordanian intelligence headquarters. The alleged blast was intended to be a big one.

"According to my experience as an explosives expert, the whole of the Intelligence Department will be destroyed, and nothing of it will remain, nor anything surrounding it," Jayyousi said.

Details of the alleged plot were shown Monday on Jordanian television, including graphics of how the cell apparently intended to carry out the attack.

In an videotape shown on Jordanian TV, Hussein Sharif said Jayyousi recruited him as a suicide bomber.

"The aim, Azmi told me, was to execute an operation to strike Jordan and the Hashemite Royal family, a war against the crusaders and infidels," Sharif said. "Azmi told me that this will be the first chemical attack that al Qaeda will execute."

Jordanian authorities said the attack would have mixed a combination of 71 lethal chemicals, which they said has never been done before, including blistering agents to cause third-degree burns, nerve gas and choking agents.

In a videotape shown on Jordanian TV, Hussein Sharif said he was recruited as a suicide bomber.
A Jordanian government scientist said the plot had been carefully worked out, with just the right amount of explosives to spread the deadly cloud without diminishing the effects of the chemicals. The blast would not burn up the poisonous chemicals but instead produce a toxic cloud, the scientist said, possibly spreading for a mile, maybe more.

The Jordanian intelligence buildings are within a mile of a large medical center, a shopping mall and a residential area.

"And there is no one combination of antidote to treat nerve agent, choking agent and blistering agent," the scientist said.

Al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian, has been accused of plotting chemical attacks before, and authorities said it would not be his first attempt to strike Jordan.

In 2000, a Jordanian court charged him in absentia with planning to blow up a hotel and attack tourist destinations.

U.S. officials have said he was behind the 2002 assassination of American diplomat Lawrence Foley, who was gunned down outside his home in Amman.

According to the televised confessions, $170,000 came from Zarqawi via messengers from Syria.

In last week's raid, Jordanian forces seized cash, bomb-making equipment and weapons, investigators said.

CNN was not allowed access to any of those arrested. But the videotaped confessions offer a rare glimpse inside an alleged terrorist operation.

The Jordanian government said the videotapes were made with the full cooperation of the suspects and their attorneys.

CNN's John Vause, Henry Schuster and David Ensor contributed to this report.


09-12-2004, 08:51 PM
You will never convince people if WMD are ever found in Iraq.

People are so invested in their hatred of the USA and George Bush; they will ignore anything that betrays their opinion.

Sad but true.

09-12-2004, 10:37 PM
You will never convince people if WMD are ever found in Iraq.

People are so invested in their hatred of the USA and George Bush; they will ignore anything that betrays their opinion.

Sad but true.

Sadly that's what seems to be the truth. I still hope that there are a few people who will change their views from this post.

09-12-2004, 11:21 PM
Bush lied to get us to go to war with Iraq. There were NO weapons of mass destruction. Whats that? Some were found in Jordan? I don't care Bush still lied.


09-12-2004, 11:48 PM
Actually, probably what you will hear more of...

"Iraq was NOT responsible for 9/11."

Wait, no one ever claimed they were.

Yeah, but...

"Iraq was not responsible for 9/11."

But they had known ties with AQ.

"Iraq was not responsible for 9/11."

But we are fighting against terrorists who did plan 9/11 as well as those that are known to support them. Iraq was in contact with them and allowed those that were caught in Jordan train AFTER American became involved in Afghanistan. It all makes sense. Even the 9/11 commission admitted that while the Iraqis did not have a hand in 9/11 they had direct ties to AQ.

"Iraq was not responsible for 9/11."

Ad nauseam. It won't matter what they hell you tell someone that can't get past a simple concept.

I mean, Diane Rehm said it to be so, so it MUST. Right? ;)

09-13-2004, 03:53 AM
Bush lied to get us to go to war with Iraq. There were NO weapons of mass destruction. Whats that? Some were found in Jordan? I don't care Bush still lied.


Is relying on intel from numerous countrys lieing?

09-13-2004, 04:37 AM
You will never convince people if WMD are ever found in Iraq. Well,IF anything is found , I will then naturally change my mind, but untill then , allow me please to remain DOUBTFUL