Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Attempted attack on US warships

AMMAN (AP)-[off the wire, no link]-Investigators were looking into a possible al-Qaida role in a rocket attack that barely missed U.S. warships docked in Aqaba port as police made more arrests, security officials said Monday.

Police are hunting for a group of two Syrians, two Iraqis and possibly other nationalities - including Egyptians and a Jordanian - believed to be the prime suspects in Friday's attack, said one official.

Authorities made more arrests Sunday and Monday after an initial roundup of suspects for questioning immediately after the attack, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the press.

Investigations appear to be pointing to al-Qaida involvement, the official said. He declined to elaborate.

He refused to give the number of arrests but said the new group involved similar nationalities as the first, including Iraqis, Egyptians, Syrians and Jordanians.

So far none of those arrested appear to be among the group of prime suspects. Some of those initially detained have been released, the official said.

"Progress is being made in the interrogation process," Interior Minister Awni Yirfas said Monday. He said authorities were questioning suspects, but he wouldn't provide details, saying it could harm the investigation.

On Friday, assailants fired three rockets from a seaview window at a warehouse in a poor industrial area in Aqaba, usually a quiet Red Sea resort and an attraction to Western and Israeli tourists. The warehouse was rented to four Egyptians and Iraqis early last week.

One rocket narrowly missed two U.S. Naval ships docked in Aqaba port for joint exercises with the Jordanian military. The second rocket landed outside an airport in neighboring Israel, but didn't explode.

One Jordanian soldier died in the attack, the most serious threat against the U.S. navy since the 2000 al-Qaida bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen.

It was also the first attack targeting U.S. personnel in Jordan since the October 2002 slaying of U.S. aid worker Laurence Foley outside his Amman home - which was blamed on Iraq's al-Qaida point man, Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

An al-Qaida group, called the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, claimed responsibility for Friday's rocket attack, saying it mainly targeted the U.S. warships.

The U.S. is being kept abreast of developments in the investigation, another security official said, also insisting on anonymity. He stressed that Jordanian investigators have the "leading role" in the probe - a clear suggestion that the U.S. was also taking part. But the official refused to comment further.

The U.S. Embassy in Amman also declined comment.

Hours after the rocket attack, the embassy issued a warden message warning U.S. government personnel against traveling to Aqaba and other U.S. citizens to "exercise caution."

Yirfas, the Jordanian interior minister, called the warden message "unnecessary," saying life in Aqaba was "normal" and "the security situation is under control."

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.(AP-DJ)--08-22-05 1016EDT

I can't seem to get the image this video out of my head when I think of this attempted attack. Maybe he led the attack. I think this qualifies for the terrorist blooper reel.

What are those jokes... You couldn't hit the broad side of a barn... If it weren't for gravity you couldn't hit the ground.

And I like the group that took credit saying they mainly targeted US warships. Doesn't seem like they targeted anything very well. And he's taking credit FOR MISSING THE TARGET. "We claim responsibility for the attack on the infidels and their boats. Our rockets guided by the hand of Allah missed only when the godless, soulless infidels' ships suddenly jumped out of the way at the last minute and the rocket guided by the hand of Allah stayed straight and true to the target's previous location. It was a sad day, but will not soften our resolve! Allah Akbar!" Not even Allah can hit the broad side of a barn... or warship in this case.

UPDATE: 3:04 PM: Zarqawi confirms, Al Qaeda did it. Well tried to do it, to be more accurate...

AMMAN (AP)-[off the wire, no link]-Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed Tuesday it had reached across the border into Jordan again to carry out the weekend Katyusha rocket attack that narrowly missed a U.S. warship in the Red Sea port of Aqaba.

Jordanian authorities, after capturing a Syrian who was labeled a prime suspect in the attack, said it appeared a number of others had fled to Iraq.

The Internet statement by al-Qaida in Iraq, led by Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was the second claim of responsibility and was signed by group spokesman Abu Maysara al-Iraqi. It was impossible to authenticate the claim.

Al-Zarqawi is a key figure in the insurgency in Iraq and the second most-wanted terrorist on the U.S. list after al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden.

Al-Qaida in Iraq said it had not issued its claim until five days after the attack "so that the brothers could finish retreating."

"God has enabled your brothers in the military wing of the al-Qaida in Iraq to plan for the Aqaba invasion a while ago," the statement said. "After finishing the preparations and deciding on the targets, your brothers launched the rockets."

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.(AP-DJ)--08-23-05 1707EDT

You will notice Zarqawi's response and my hypothesized response are strikingly similar... except of course for that Allah can't hit the broad side of a warship comment I threw in...