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Jordan: Al-Qaida Members Killed Diplomat (AP) By Shafika Mattar AMMAN, JORDAN 12/14/02 3:01 PM)Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A54803-2002Dec14.html AP} ASSOCIATED PRESS AP} ASSOCIATED PRESS Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
AMMAN, Jordan –– Jordanian police arrested a Libyan and a Jordanian accused in the killing of a U.S. diplomat in October, officials announced Saturday, saying a top al-Qaida operative supplied the two men with guns and money for a terrorist campaign in Jordan.

The daylight shooting of Laurence Foley, 60, in front of his home in Amman shocked Jordanians and the American expatriate community, which regarded Jordan as one of the safer countries in the troubled Middle East.

The two suspects, Salem Saad bin Suweid from Libya and Jordanian Yasser Fatih Ibrahim, both admitted belonging to al-Qaida and having links to a top figure in the terror network, Information Minister Mohammad Affash Adwan said in a statement broadcast on Jordanian television.

Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher said the two men also had confessed to Foley´s slaying, and Adwan said they had planned to carry out further attacks against embassies and foreign diplomats in the Jordanian capital.

According to Adwan´s statement, the two men were connected to Ahmed al-Kalaylah, a Jordanian better known as Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi. German officials have said al-Zarqawi is an al-Qaida commander assigned to orchestrate attacks on Europe. He is thought to be among the top 25 in the terror organization´s hierarchy.

Adwan said officials had been aware of the Ibrahim and bin Suweid´s involvement in Foley´s slaying for some time but withheld information while the investigation continued. A source close to the investigation said the two men were arrested Dec. 3.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the two were charged with conspiring to carry out terrorist attacks, belonging to an illegal organization, al-Qaida, and possessing arms and explosives – charges that carry the death penalty.

Adwan said the pair targeted Foley, an administrator with the U.S. Agency for International Development that coordinates American aid, because he did not have a heavy security detail.

The minister´s statement described in detail the Oct. 28 slaying, saying the suspects went to Foley´s home in a rented car and bin Suweid hid outside, armed with a 7mm gun with a silencer, tear has, wearing a bulletproof vest and blue jeans and masked with a keffiyeh, or Arab headdress.

"When Foley came out and intended to open his car door, bin Suweid fired all the bullets in his gun at Foley," Adwan´s statement said.

He said bin Suweid had trained in al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan and entered Jordan on a fake Tunisian passport.

The U.S. Embassy in Jordan issued a statement praising the Jordanian government for its "diligence and aggressiveness" in pursuing the investigation.

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Louis Fintor was asked about possible extradition of the two suspects but said he had no information about American plans for prosecuting the men.

The detained men were found with ammunition and the gun used in the Foley attack as well as a plan for attacking other "important targets" in Jordan, Adwan´s statement said. It said the men admitted their al-Qaida cell had unfulfilled plans to smuggle surface to air missiles into the country.

The statement said the fugitive al-Qaida official al-Zarqawi supplied the two suspects with machine guns, grenades and money to carry out terrorist attacks against embassies and foreign diplomats.

U.S. officials have said that al-Zarqawi was in Afghanistan when the United States began bombing there in late 2001. During the military action he fled to Iran, then to Baghdad in Iraq for medical treatment, and then on to Syria, the American officials said.

In Jordan, Al-Zarqawi was sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison for smuggling weapons into the country and being part of a foiled conspiracy to bomb tourist sites during millennium celebrations.

The killing of Foley shocked Jordan, which has long and close ties to the United States. King Abdullah II and his wife, Queen Rania, visited the U.S. Embassy the day after the shooting to offer condolences and met briefly with Foley´s widow. Foley, born in Boston, had later lived in Oakland, Calif.

Anti-American demonstrations are less common and smaller in Amman than in other Arab capitals, and usually tied to protests against Israel. More than half of Jordan´s 5 million people are of Palestinian origin. Jordan also has close commercial links to Iraq. (© 2002 The Associated Press 12/14/02)

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