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November 9, 2005
AQ Targets Amman, Kills Muslims (Updated!)

A series of three bombs exploded almost simultaneously at American-owned hotels in Amman, Jordan today, killing over 50 people. Given the nature of the attack -- multiple bombs, suicide-based attacks, targeting the tourist industry -- experts believe that al-Qaeda staged the terrorist attack, probably Abu Musab al-Zarqawi from across the border in Iraq:

Suicide bombers carried out nearly simultaneous attacks on three U.S.-based hotels in the Jordanian capital Wednesday night, killing at least 57 people and wounding 115 in what appeared to be an al-Qaida assault on an Arab kingdom with close ties to the United States.

The explosions hit the Grand Hyatt, Radisson SAS and Days Inn hotels just before 9 p.m. One of the blasts took place inside a wedding hall where 300 guests were celebrating. Black smoke rose into the night, and wounded victims stumbled from the hotels. ...

A U.S. counterterrorism official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the strong suspicion is that al-Zarqawi was involved because of his known animosity for Jordanian monarchy and the fact that it was a suicide attack, one of his hallmarks.

In February, U.S. intelligence indicated that Osama bin Laden was in contact with al-Zarqawi, enlisting him to conduct attacks outside of Iraq, noted another U.S. counterterrorism official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity. Jordan has arrested scores of Islamic militants for plotting to carry out attacks and has also sentenced many militants to death in absentia, including al-Zarqawi.

Despite the ownership of the three major chain hotels, Muslims comprised most of the victims killed in the attack. Most came from a wedding party at the Radisson, which had a large guest list of primarily Jordanians. However, the Radisson also is popular with Israeli and American tourists, which may have been the reason why it was included on the AQ target list. One might have expected the bomber to have realized that the wedding party consisted of Jordanians -- fellow Muslims -- if indeed that mattered at all to the Islamofascist lunatics who commit these obscene and disgusting crimes.

Haaretz reports that the lack of Israeli victims came from an eleventh-hour evacuation of Israelis from Amman hotels after a specific threat came to Jordanian intelligence (h/t: Hugh Hewitt). This sounds quite peculiar to me, almost like the germination of an urban legend, but Haaretz has Jordanian intelligence escorting Israelis back to Israel.

If this is true, then why wouldn't Jordanian intelligence simply close the hotels and evacuate the guests somewhere else? I'd tend to consider this a bit unreliable unless we hear more confirmation later. Update -- this was an unsubstantiated and false rumor that Haaretz later withdrew. See this post for my reaction.

UPDATE: The hotels are not corporate owned, but franchises owned by Palestinian families. DW West has the details in the comments. Also, Fox News reports that al-Arabiya claims three Iraqis have been arrested in connection with the bombings, but I have not yet found anything on the wires regarding any arrests.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 9, 2005 7:15 PM

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» Carnage in Jordan from A Blog For All
The death toll is still being tallied, but it is a grim situation in Amman, Jordan as three bombs went off at hotels throughout the city...The death toll in the carnage is now up to 57... [Read More]

Tracked on November 9, 2005 9:43 PM

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Do you think our response to the violence will influence how this war plays out? How is it that when this snarling, ravenous, murderous hatred leaps straight for our throats, some seek to explain it away, or apologize to the beast? [Read More]

Tracked on November 9, 2005 11:20 PM

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Tracked on November 10, 2005 12:43 AM


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