PETRA (Jordan), INDEPENDENT, GUARDIAN (UK), AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE (France)
AMMAN - Jordanian police say they have arrested 11 suspected terrorists who had crossed the border from Syria and were planning a major attack against foreigners in Jordan's capital.
The U.S. embassy in Jordan was among the targets, an embassy spokesman confirmed to the Independent. According to the Jordanian news agency Petra, the group “planned to target diplomats” and other foreigners in hotels and public areas.
Jordan is an important ally of the United States in the Middle East, and its capital Amman is the headquarters of many foreign companies that do business in the Middle East.
The police say they found “large quantities of ammunition, machine guns and other items such as computers” and the terrorists had received explosives training from Iraqi Al Qaeda experts, Reuters said. The plotters wanted to fatally disrupt Jordan’s tourism- and business-based economy, says the Independent.
Jordanian police also announced that they had captured two cousins of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Al Qaeda leader in Iraq who was killed in 2006 after a series of high-profile attacks that included beheadings of western hostages, the AFP reported.
An Al Qaeda attack on three luxury hotels in Jordan in 2005 killed more than 60 deaths wounded 115. Many of the dead were local Jordanians who had been attending a wedding, and this caused a wave of revulsion among local citizens.
Jordan has had to play a careful game in Middle Eastern politics. More than 100,000 Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan since the beginning of the popular uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, the Guardian reports. But Jordan does not want the fighting there to spread across the border. It has stepped up border controls with Syria to ensure that fundamentalists supporting Syrian rebels do not give Assad an excuse to help Al Qaeda in Jordan.