August 22, 2005


Jordan: Rocket attack prime suspect arrested (AP, 8/22/05)

A Syrian linked to an Iraq-based terrorist group has been arrested as the prime suspect in the rocket attack that barely missed U.S. warships docked in the port of Aqaba, the Jordanian government said Monday.

The government statement, read on state television, said the suspect, Mohammed Hassan Abdullah al-Sihly, plotted and carried out the attack along with two of his sons and an Iraqi.

There's no one you'd rather have holding a terrorist than the Jordanians:
Abu Nidal's group was best known for its role in two bloody gun and grenade attacks on check-in desks for El Al, the Israeli airline, at the Rome and Vienna airports in December, 1985. At his peak, Abu Nidal threatened the life of King Hussein of Jordan—whom he called "the pygmy king"—and the King responded, according to the former intelligence officers, by telling his state security service, "Go get them."

The Jordanians did not move directly against suspected Abu Nidal followers but seized close family members instead—mothers and brothers. The Abu Nidal suspect would be approached, given a telephone, and told to call his mother, who would say, according to one C.I.A. man, "Son, they'll take care of me if you don't do what they ask." (To his knowledge, the official carefully added, all the suspects agreed to talk before any family members were actually harmed.) By the early nineteen-nineties, the group was crippled by internal dissent and was no longer a significant terrorist organization. (Abu Nidal, now in his sixties and in poor health, is believed to be living quietly in Egypt.) "Jordan is the one nation that totally succeeded in penetrating a group," the official added. "You have to get their families under control."

abu Nidal himself died in Baghdad, although Saddam, of course, had no ties to terrorism....

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 22, 2005 8:28 PM

The Jordanians have always been savvy because their country had no natural resources and lacked Arab nationalist credentials like the Nasserites or Baathists did. They were always threatened by some group taking them over - Syria, the PLO, Nasser, Saddam, etc. But in general, the kings have out maneuvered them all. Their only big mistake was backing Saddam in the first Gulf War, but they learned their lesson quick.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at August 23, 2005 11:52 AM