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June 23, 2005
But The Chemicals Came Out Of Nowhere, Apparently

Instapundit and Trey Jackson link to a Washington Post story about a trial of 13 terrorists who attempted to stage a massive chemical attack on Amman, Jordan last year. Jordanian intelligence caught the Zarqawi-led ring before they had a chance to detonate chemical weapons on a scale that could have killed thousands:

Islamic militants planned to detonate an explosion that would have sent a cloud of toxic chemicals across Jordan, causing death, blindness and sickness, a chemical expert testified in a military court Wednesday.

Col. Najeh al-Azam was giving evidence in the trial of 13 men who are alleged to have planned what would have been the world's first chemical attack by the al-Qaida terror group. The accused include al-Qaida's leader in Iraq, Abu-Musab Al-Zarqawi, and three other fugitives who are being tried in absentia.

Jordanian security services foiled the plot in April last year. Jordanian officials say that had it been carried out, thousands of people would have died.

This attempt received quite a bit of press last year when the plot was discovered and the terrorists arrested. The Jordanians released pictures of the mass amounts of chemicals involved, including hydrogen peroxide, nitroglycerin, sulfuric acid, and others. Given the efforts in Iraq of Zarqawi and his lieutenants, the likelihood of the chemicals coming from old Ba'athist stocks there at least ranks as high as getting them from Syria or other adjacent states.

Zarqawi issued a statement at the time denying he had chemical weapons or intended them for the attack on Amman, although he took credit for planning it. The only ones buying that explanation are the defendants themselves, but even one of them confessed to conspiring to use the crude but effective WMD materials for the attack on Jordan's intelligence service. (He later recanted his confession.) It appears to me that the terrorists got caught red-handed, so to speak, but don't want to generate questions about where they got the chemicals for the attack -- and whether any more exist elsewhere, too.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 23, 2005 12:00 PM

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