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French Version

Jordan - King Abdullah vows to pursue terror ringleaders

Iraqi woman confesses to suicide plot

Jordan's King Abdullah II pledged Sunday to pursue the ringleaders of last week's suicide attacks, "even if it's beyond the borders of Jordan." His comments came as an Iraqi woman in Jordanian custody said in a televised confession she had tried to blow herself up alongside her husband in an Amman hotel last week.

Abdullah said the attacks were aimed at ordinary Jordanians, not foreigners, noting that the three bombed hotels were frequented by locals.

"This was nothing to do with the West. This targeted Jordanian citizens - innocent men, women and children," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Would-be bomber Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi spoke in calm voice as she told of her role in what authorities say was four-person mission targeting three hotels, an operation that killed 57 people and wounded close to 100.

Rishawi was arrested earlier Sunday as Jordanian security services stepped up a campaign to nab other suspects behind the three devastating attacks that have been blamed on Al-Qaeda's Iraq front man Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Rishawi, 35, said she and her husband entered Jordan by car on November 5 carrying fake Iraqi passports and made their way on November 9 to the Radisson SAS hotel, where a wedding was in progress.

"I took one corner and my husband took another corner. There was a wedding party at the hotel with women, men and children. My husband carried out the operation. I tried to detonate [the explosives belt] but it didn't go, so I left.

"People came running out and I came out with them," Risahwi recalled in a calm and steady voice. She said she came from the Iraqi city of Ramadi.

Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Moasher told reporters that all four bombers were from Iraq's western desert province of Anbar, a Sunni guerrilla stronghold bordering Jordan. Ramadi is the capital of Anbar Province.

He said the attackers entered Jordan four days before the blasts, rented an apartment at a middle-class neighborhood in Amman and used suicide belts packed with 5-10 kilograms of explosives.

Moasher named the three dead bombers as Safar Mohammad Ali, Rawad Jasim Mohammad Abid and Rishawi's husband as Ali Hussein al-Shimeri. He played down any Jordanian involvement.

Moasher said Rishawi is the sister of Samir Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, a now-dead former senior aide to Zarqawi.

He said that the decision to air Rishawi's confession was made to give the Jordanian people some relief.

"She will be tried in a Jordanian court. And she will get a fair trial." Authorities have said 12 people have been detained as suspects in the killings.

Interior Minister Awni Yarfas said the government would tighten anti-terrorist laws.

"We are speeding up passing an anti-terror law soon to indict anyone who supports terror either through advocacy and incitement either by word or action," he told Reuters.

In the NBC interview, King Abdullah said Jordan is "suffering from the effects" of the U.S.-led Iraqi war, "but we are all hoping, I think as is everybody in the world, that at the end of the day Iraq will be part of the international community."

He said that "all Jordanians are unified, in that they want the people who are responsible for these crimes to be brought to justice."

He said that "if we know where they are, even if it's beyond the borders of Jordan, we will give it the best shot possible to bring these people to justice."

In response to a question about polls that suggested support in Jordan for Islamic extremism, he said Jordanians were against attacks on civilians.

"The majority of the country poured out to denounce what Zarqawi and Al-Qaeda did, calling for Zarqawi to be brought to justice, for him to burn in hell," Abdullah said.

In international reaction to the attacks, the European Union's foreign policy chief Javier Solana said he was confident Jordan will be able to thwart terrorism.

He said that during talks with Abdullah the Jordanian monarch neither asked for financial nor security help in combating terror attacks.

While condemning the attack, Iran said it suspected Israel was behind the suicide attacks in Amman.

While condemning the attacks and expressing sympathy for the victims, Iraq's deputy prime minister, Ahmad Chalabi, chastised Jordan for its alleged support of terrorism in Iraq, emphasizing that Zarqawi was a Jordanian and had been released from custody by King Abdullah.

Money from Jordan "seeps to the terrorist networks" in Iraq, Chalabi said on CNN's "Late Edition."

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and his wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, will interrupt a visit to Israel to travel to Jordan to meet with Abdullah, a spokesman for the senator said.

Amman,11 14 2005
The Daily Star
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