AMMAN, Jordan, AP – Jordan said Monday it arrested an unidentified leader of the al-Qaida in Iraq militant group, blaming him for kidnapping and killing Jordanians and Arabs and robbing commercial trucks driving to and from Iraq.
The announcement on Jordanian state television said the General Intelligence Department “has arrested an official with al-Qaida in Iraq who has committed several crimes that included robbing trucks, kidnapping and killing Jordanian citizens and other Arabs.”
The department did not provide other details of the arrest of the suspected militant, whose group is headed by Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Jordanian security officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the arrest took place in Iraq. They did not make clear who conducted the operation.
Jordan’s intelligence department is known to be one of the most efficient security agencies in the Arab world. In the past, its agents have teamed with their American counterparts on interrogations of militants in Iraq, but the government has not acknowledged it has agents operating there.
Iraqi Interior Ministry Lt. Col. Ali Rashid said his ministry had no information about the arrest, adding that it was not involved in the operation.
Al-Zarqawi, the top leader of Al-Qaida in Iraq, has claimed responsibility for several terrorist attacks against his native country, including triple hotel blasts Nov. 9 in Amman that killed 63 people, including three Iraqi suicide bombers.
Al-Zarqawi’s group has claimed responsibility for scores of kidnappings, beheadings and suicide bombings in neighboring Iraq.
The group opposes Jordan’s moderate stance on Islam, its longtime alliance with the United States and the peace treaty it signed with Israel in 1994.
A Jordanian military court has sentenced Al-Zarqawi to death three times for terror attacks, including the October 2002 slaying of U.S. official Laurence Foley, who was gunned down outside his Amman home.