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August 19, 2005
Terrorist Attack On US Navy Misses Target

Terrorists launched a missile attack on American Navy amphibious craft from the 5th Fleet, but missed and hit a warehouse instead, killing at least one Jordanian:

Unknown assailants fired at least three missiles from Jordan early Friday, with one narrowly missing a U.S. Navy ship docked at port, an attack that killed a Jordanian soldier. One missile fell close to an airport in neighboring Israel, officials said.

The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, said two American amphibious ships were docked in Aqaba when a mortar was fired toward them. The vessels later sailed out of port as a result of the attacks, U.S. Navy spokesman Lt. Cdr. Charlie Brown told The Associated Press in Bahrain.

Jordanian soldier Ahmed Jamal Saleh was fatally wounded when the mortar sailed over one of the U.S. ships and slammed into a warehouse, a Jordanian security official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The soldier died in the ambulance taking him to hospital; another Jordanian was also wounded, the official added.

The rocket attacks came from residential slums around Aqaba, Jordanian officials say. This demonstrates a change in tactics for al-Qaeda terrorists in the five years since the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, assuming for the moment that AQ carried out this attack; Hamas and Hezbollah likely would prefer to avoid taking on the US directly for the moment. Five years ago, AQ used suicide bombers to deliver a powerful bomb point-blank to the ship. It hit the target, killing seventeen sailors. This attack used Katyusha rockets, a more crude and ineffective tactical weapon that rarely hits its targets, as demonstrated by this attack.

What does that mean? It could indicate that the terrorist network has depleted its resources for suicide bombers, at least outside of Iraq. That would show that the flypaper theory actually does play out as the Bush administration predicted, and that rather than generating thousands more martyrs to the cause of radical Islam, Iraq simply draws those foreign terrorists who would otherwise attack American interests elsewhere. This ineffective Katyusha attack also shows that the training and materials used by AQ have degraded significantly, or possibly that because of the lack of other resources (human and materiel), they have had to change tactics to the Palestinian-style rocket attacks and have not had the time to master it, to the extent it can be mastered.

All of these scenarios add up to a serious loss in command and control functions, as this attack had no particular planning and the terrorists obviously had little expertise in the use of the materials. It also indicates that suicide attacks may play less of a role in the future for AQ, meaning that their recruitment may not be anywhere near as robust as American pessimists and radical Islamists declare it to be. Iraq may have worn down the flow and the desire of postential suicide bombers, the only tactical weapon AQ has with an advantage over Western forces. If so, then AQ and its associates will shortly have to pull back and rethink their entire war effort.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 19, 2005 6:21 AM

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» OK Dems, Should We Leave Jordan? from The Strata-Sphere
Since the attack on the USS Cole, we have no illusions what an attack on our naval vessels implies. Today in Jordan one of our ships narrowly missed being hit by a rocket or mortar, as explained here. Unknown assailants fired at least three missiles... [Read More]

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» Not many details on this from Murdoc Online
Three rockets fired at U.S. ships in Jordan It's all Bush's fault. Before we unilaterally invaded Iraq no one would have ever thought of attacking US Navy ships in Middle Eastern ports. Anyway, if these really were Katyusha-type rockets, it's... [Read More]

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» Two If By Sea from La Shawn Barber's Corner
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