14 November 2005, Volume 8, Number 38
AL-ZARQAWI BRINGS AL-QAEDA'S JIHAD TO JORDAN. Fugitive Jordanian terrorist Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for the 9 November bombing of three hotels in Amman, Jordan, claiming that his Tanzim Qa'idat Al-Jihad fi Bilad Al-Rafidayn (Al-Qaeda Organization of Jihad in the Land of the Two Rivers) was behind the deadly attacks.
The bombings appear to be in retaliation against Jordan, which is one of the United States' staunchest allies in the region. Jordan is also Iraq's closest Arab ally, having done more than any other Arab state to help facilitate Iraq's transition to democracy in the post-Saddam Hussein era.
A Friend To East And West
The global war on terror has left Jordan in a precarious position. Wedged between the Palestinian West Bank, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Syria, the kingdom has tried to balance Arab loyalties and western alliances -- particularly with the United States and Israel -- that are not accepted in much of the Arab world. Jordan quietly lent support to the United States during the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom and King Abdallah II offered safe haven to two of Hussein's daughters, giving them and their children homes and monthly allowances on the stipulation that they do not become politically active in the kingdom.
In the postwar era, Jordan has played a crucial role in the rebuilding of Iraq, by facilitating everything from summits to workshops for various U.S. and Iraqi government agencies and nongovernmental organizations. Moreover, Iraq has become Jordan's second most important trading partner, accounting for 16 percent -- or $42.4 million of Jordanian exports (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 28 March 2005).
While Jordan has not been immune to terrorism, it has gone largely unscathed in recent years. But as a 19 August attack on a Jordanian naval ship docked in the port of Al-Aqabah shows, Jordan is increasingly having to deal with the wrath of Al-Qaeda. Insurgents purportedly linked to al-Zarqawi fired three Katyusha rockets at the ship but missed, though one Jordanian sailor was killed in the attack.
That attack and subsequent discovery of an Iraqi criminal ring that produced counterfeit passports and documents operating in Amman, prompted the Jordanian government to announce that it would invest $85 million to improve security along its border with Iraq (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August 2005). At the time of the announcement, Jordanian officials said that the border authorities were working at 10 times their normal capacity, checking some 1,500 vehicles and 5,000 passengers daily.
In June, Jordanian Colonel Isam Hijazin, director of the Al-Karamah border crossing between Jordan and Iraq, estimated that 150 forged Iraqi passports are discovered among travelers crossing into Jordan every day. Hijazin said that despite the large amount of traffic, people tended to pass through the border quickly, spending an average of five minutes to complete their transactions (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 June 2005).
Al-Zarqawi Wanted For Other Attacks
Al-Zarqawi served seven years in a Jordanian prison from 1992-99 on charges of trying to overthrow the monarchy. Soon after his release, he was charged with plotting to blow up the Radisson SAS Hotel in Amman just before New Year's Day 2000. Al-Zarqawi fled the country and Jordan has been pursuing him ever since.
The Jordanian government sentenced al-Zarqawi to death in absentia in early 2004 for his involvement in the October 2002 murder of U.S. diplomat Lawrence Foley in Amman.
In October 2004, he was indicted along with 12 others on charges related to a planned chemical attack against the Jordanian General Intelligence Department.
In October 2005, the U.S. National Intelligence Directorate (http://www.dni.gov) released a translation of a letter intercepted in Iraq and dated 9 July from Al-Qaeda mastermind Ayman al-Zawahiri to al-Zarqawi, advising him to "extend the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq."
Jordan has no choice but to deal with Al-Qaeda head on. The kingdom has a strong security apparatus, but it will also need to deal with the national mindset. A Pew Global Attitudes survey released in July found that support for Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Jordan has risen over the last two years from 55 percent to 60 percent (http://pewglobal.org). Twenty-five percent of respondents said they had "a lot of confidence" in bin Laden. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said violence against civilian targets was "often/sometimes justified," up from 43 percent in the summer of 2002. Surprisingly, 87 percent of respondents said Islamic terrorism was not a threat to their country.
Al-Zarqawi Claims Responsibility
In a 10 November Internet statement (http://www.alfirdaws.org/forums), al-Zarqawi said the organization's Al-Bara' Ibn-Malik Brigade carried out the Amman hotel bombings, which the statement referred to as "a new conquest."
"It was decided to carry out the attacks against some hotels which were transformed by the tyrant of Jordan into a backyard for the enemies of the faith, from the Jews and the Crusaders, a dirty pasture for the traitors of the nation, the apostates, a safe haven for the intelligence of the infidels who run their plots against the Muslims.... and a center for whoredom and immorality, fighting against God," the statement claimed.
Addressing Jordan's King Abdallah II, it added: "Let the tyrant of Amman know that the protection wall for the Jews, which was built in east Jordan, and the backup military camp to the armies of the Crusaders and [Iraq's Shi'ite-led government], is now a target for the mujahedin and their conquests."
Fifty-six people were killed and more than 100 were reported wounded in the 9 November bombings of the Grand Hyatt, Radisson SAS, and Days Inn hotels in Amman.
The three near-simultaneous bombings appeared to be carried out by suicide bombers. At the Radisson SAS, a bomb detonated in the hotel's ballroom, where a 300-guest wedding was under way. The bomb at the Grand Hyatt was detonated in the hotel lobby. Officials said they believed the Days Inn attack was the result of a car bomb.
Amman's "Al-Ghadd" newspaper reported on 10 November that the majority of the victims in the attacks were Jordanian nationals. Three Iraqi nationals were also killed and five others wounded. Other victims included German, U.S., Swiss, Saudi, Chinese, and Indonesian nationals, "Al-Ghadd" reported.
Bethlehem's Ma'an news agency (http://www.maannews.net) reported that three Palestinian officials were among those killed at the Hyatt hotel blast: Brigadier General Bashir Nafi, the head of Palestinian Intelligence in the West Bank; Jihad Fattuh, commercial attache at the Palestinian Embassy in Egypt; and Abed Allun, director-general of the Palestinian Interior Ministry. The former director-general of the Palestinian Communications Ministry, Mus'ab Ahmad Khurma, was also killed.
Three Iraqis were reportedly arrested in Amman on 9 November after they were found to be in possession of maps of "sensitive locations," according to Al-Arabiyah television. No further details were given on the arrests and it is unclear whether they are connected to the hotel bombings.
Meanwhile, Jordan's state-run news agency Petra cited a source from the Jordanian Public Security Department on 10 November as saying that a number of suspects were apprehended and several vehicles seized in connection with the attacks. The source said that the suspects remained under interrogation. Jordan had closed its borders immediately after the attacks, but reopened them the following morning. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
LATEST KILLING OF HUSSEIN TRIAL LAWYER HEIGHTENS CONCERNS. Two lawyers representing co-defendants of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein were shot on 8 November in Baghdad. Adil al-Zubaydi was killed instantly while Thamir Hamud Hadi al-Khuza'i was wounded; both men are listed on the Iraq Special Tribunal website as lawyers for former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan.
The attack comes less than three weeks after defense attorney Sa'dun Antar al-Janabi was kidnapped from his office and later found dead (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 2005). Hussein and seven members of his regime are on trail for war crimes related to the 1982 massacre of Shi'ite Arabs living in the town of Al-Dujayl.
While no party has claimed responsibility for the killings, there is no shortage of suspects. The perpetrators could be average citizens seeking revenge for crimes committed by Hussein's regime against their families. Many Iraqis have expressed shock and anger over the fact that a fellow Iraqi would defend Hussein and the others on trial.
It is also quite plausible that the killings were carried out by the Ba'ath Party itself in an attempt to disrupt or delay the trial. The killings lend support to calls by Hussein supporters to move the trial to The Hague, which would delay the process considerably.
For months, defense lawyers representing the eight men have sought to move the trial outside of Iraq, claiming that their clients would not get a fair trial from the Iraqi Special Tribunal. The tribunal denied a request to move the trial to The Hague, and the court began proceedings on 20 October. Al-Janabi was abducted hours after the court session ended.
Al-Janabi's kidnapping and subsequent killing outraged defense attorneys who claimed in a series of interviews with Iraqi and Arab media outlets that they were putting their lives in danger, adding that the Iraqi government had failed to provide for their safety in Baghdad.
"We hold the U.S. troops and the Iraqi government responsible for protecting the lives of all the lawyers on the defense panel. We have submitted several requests [for protection]...however, all our requests...have fallen on deaf ears," Hussein attorney Khalil al-Dulaymi told Al-Jazeera television on 20 October. Al-Dulaymi added that the abduction was "meant to frighten the [defense] attorneys who are defending members of the legitimate leadership."
Government spokesman Laith Kubba told reporters on 23 October that defense attorneys were offered, but declined, protection from the government before the trial began. The defense panel also rejected an offer to have their faces obscured by the cameras inside the courtroom and to have their names publicly withheld. Kubba told reporters that the government would gladly provide security to the defense attorneys upon request in the future, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 October 2005).
Defense attorneys refused to attend a special court session at a Baghdad hospital on 23 October, where lawyers and judges listened to the testimony of a terminally ill witness in the case. Again, defense attorneys cited security issues, but the government said it had offered protection to the lawyers. Defense lawyer Ziyad al-Najdawi later declared in an interview with Baghdad's "Al-Dustur" published on 26 October that the testimony, given without the presence of defense attorneys, was "a violation of the rules of justice and the integrity of the court."
On 26 October, the lawyers declared a strike in protest of al-Janabi's assassination, saying they would not return to work without protection. The demand, in light of Kubba's comments, appeared more as an attempt to delay the trial than a concern for their own fate.
It remains unclear whether defense attorneys will return to court when the tribunal reconvenes on 28 November. Court officials last month told nytimes.com that discussions were under way to provide "substantial protection" to the attorneys, the website reported on 27 October. But defense attorney Khamis al-Ubaydi told the website that the lawyers would not return to work until al-Janabi's killers were brought to justice.
Meanwhile, lead prosecutor Ja'far al-Musawi said on 7 November that attempts to negotiate protection for the defense lawyers has gone nowhere because calls to the lawyers from his office go unanswered. He contended that the defense lawyers' staff recognized his office's telephone numbers on caller I.D. and refused to pick up, latimes.com reported on 8 November.
Should the attorneys refuse to return to work, the only option for the tribunal would be to find them in contempt of court and assign new lawyers to represent Hussein and the other co-defendants. It is unclear, however, whether the court would be able to find competent lawyers willing to defend Hussein and his co-defendants. If new attorneys are appointed, the move would buy additional time for Hussein, as the new defense team would likely seek a delay in order to prepare its defense. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
KURDISTAN COALITION MEMBER OUTLINES POLITICAL LANDSCAPE. Firyad Rawanduzi, a National Assembly member from the Kurdistan Coalition list, spoke to Radio Free Iraq (RFI) correspondent Mustafa Salih Karim in Al-Sulaymaniyah on 7 November.
RAWANDUZI: The political map [of Iraq] has not changed much, apart from some minor changes in the United Iraqi Alliance, from which the followers of [supreme Shi'ite cleric Ali] al-Sistani left -- or rather some of the politicians who were loyal to al-Sistani and who were led by [Shi'ite parliamentarian] Ali al-Dabbagh. Moreover, [Deputy Prime Minister] Ahmad al-Chalabi has left [the United Iraqi Alliance]. But the Shi'ite segment has remained as it was.
The same is true of the segment for Kurdistan; the Kurdistan Coalition list has not gone through big changes, except for the pullout of the Kurdistan Islamic Union, which will run in the [15 December] elections alone. Regarding the list of [former interim Prime Minister Iyad] Allawi, it has witnessed some changes and has been joined by many politicians and parties. Among them is, for instance, the Iraqi National list, led by [National Assembly speaker] Hajim al-Hasani and [Vice President] Sheikh Ghazi Ajil al-Yawir, as well as the Iraqi Communist Party, the Arab Socialist Movement, the [Democratic Patriotic] Party of Nasir al-Chadirchi, and others.
That is why I do not expect big changes to happen, with the exception of the Sunni [Arab] segment that has entered [the electoral process]. Their presence will be strong, and they will do their best to win as many seats as possible so that they can have an influence in the future Council of Representatives.
RFI: Which groups have joined the Kurdistan Coalition list?
RAWANDUZI: The most important parties are the two leading parties of Iraqi Kurdistan -- the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party. Also, there are the [Kurdistan] Communist Party, the Kurdistan Toilers Party, and the [Kurdistan] Social Democratic Party, as well as some Chaldean representatives. This time, also the [Kurdistan] Islamic Group, led by Ali Bapir, has joined the Kurdistan Coalition list. The [Kurdistan Coalition] list has been left by the Kurdistan Islamic Union.
Regarding [the news on Arab Socialist Movement leader] Abdullah al-Nasrawi's joining the Kurdistan Coalition list, the news is unsubstantiated because the Arab Socialist Movement has now been included in the Iraqi National list, led by Allawi.
RFI: What election results do you expect?
RAWANDUZI: It would be difficult to predict the election results now. It seems likely, however, that the Shi'ite coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance, will get the first position. There will be strong competition now among this list, Allawi's list, and the Sunni [Arab] coalition. I think the presence of the Sunni [Arab] coalition in the next Council of Representatives will create a new map in the council, even though this map may not -- in my opinion -- bring about many changes regarding the main political issues, especially in the issues defined in the constitution that was approved by the Iraqi people [in the 15 October referendum].
(Translated by Petr Kubalek)
RFI INTERVIEWS IRAQI SPECIAL TRIBUNAL JUDGE RIZGAR MUHAMMAD AMIN. RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) spoke with Iraqi Special Tribunal presiding Judge Rizgar Muhammad Amin in Al-Sulaymaniyah about the trial of ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and seven of his associates. The charges in the trial, which was launched on 19 October before being adjourned until late November, include crimes against humanity in connection with the 1982 massacre in the Shi'ite village of Al-Dujayl (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 21 October 2005). The interview was broadcast on 11 November.
RFI: Are you satisfied with your performance in the first hearing of the Saddam Hussein trial?
RIZGAR MUHAMMAD AMIN: Yes, I am satisfied with the performance of the tribunal. It has been described as really very good by other people [than me] who are specialists from among distinguished judges, law professors, and law institutes such as the prestigious CEELI [Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative of the American Bar Association]. Therefore, I can say that I, as a judge, have fulfilled my duty, as I should.
RFI: Some media reports have suggested that you were too gentle toward Saddam Hussein, thus offering him an opportunity to attack the legitimacy of the tribunal. What is your comment?
AMIN: It is one of the tasks of a judge to preserve patience and good manners. Rudeness is forbidden for a lawyer in the genuine juridical tradition, and [using] it would be incompatible with the esteem and the neutrality of the tribunal.
As my revered teacher, Court of Cassation former presiding Judge Diya' al-Shaykh Khattab, says in his book "The Art of Justice," a good judge is someone who has silenced his humane side because he holds the scales between two litigants and must pass a fair judgment on them, abstaining from any shadow of sympathy or bias. Therefore he must be neither harsh nor temperate but always gentle. He must respect every person, whatever his or her position. He must not make any distinction between someone strong and weak. Everyone is equal before the law. This is the task of judge according to the constitution, domestic law, and the international criteria for a fair trial. The defendant has the right to defend himself within the limits of law, and the court is obliged to hear him out. But going beyond or outside the subject of the indictment is unacceptable, whether it happens from the side of [the participants] or from the court itself.
RFI: Some of the defense lawyers have demanded security protection after some of their colleagues were murdered. Will the Iraqi Special Tribunal provide the defense lawyers with security protection, or is that within the competences of the Interior Ministry?
AMIN: The protection of all citizens including attorneys is a duty of the government. The tribunal has urgently appealed [to the government] and hopes the [government] will provide sufficient protection to the [lawyers] and to everybody.
RFI: Some of Saddam Hussein's lawyers have announced that they will boycott the next hearing [scheduled for 28 November]. What measures will you take if this happens?
AMIN: The tribunal will take an appropriate decision at the relevant time. We will cross that bridge when we come to it.
RFI: Circles close to the defense lawyers have demanded that the trial be transferred abroad. What do you think as the presiding judge in the trial?
AMIN: Transferring the trial abroad would fall within the issues of [Iraqi state] sovereignty, on the one hand, and the competences of the UN Security Council, on the other hand. It is outside the competences of the [Iraqi Special] Tribunal, and [therefore] I would not say any more on this subject.
RFI: Another important issue is the indication in some media reports that there has been U.S. interference in the trial. What is your reaction?
AMIN: Our tribunal is independent according to law, and no one can interfere in its affairs. I have not noticed any [outside] interference in its work; there has not been any [interference], whether from inside the country or from abroad.
RFI: What about allegations of politicization or prejudice of the tribunal?
AMIN: I am a judge acting upon law; I am not a politician. Consequently, we do not accept any political interference or any politicization of the tribunal.
RFI: The quality of the [audio and video] transmission of the first hearing of the trial has been criticized. How will this be resolved in the upcoming hearing, bearing in mind that people are eager to follow the trial?
AMIN: I have been informed that the situation has been resolved for the next hearing. I have not actually seen the transmission of the proceedings, but I have heard that the transmission was technically poor.
(Translated by Petr Kubalek.)
Compiled by Kathleen Ridolfo.