New Al Qaeda claim for Aqaba rocket attack
Al Qaeda officially announced on Tuesday that it was behind last Friday's rocket attack in the Gulf of Aqaba which nearly hit a US naval shipped docked there and killed one Jordanian soldier.
In a statement posted on the internet, the group, led by Al Qaeda's Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, took responsibility for the attack and said that it had waited until now to announce their involvement so that its members would have time to safely return to their bases.
"We would like to tell you that we delayed claiming this attack so that our brothers could complete their withdrawal ... and they returned safely to their base" adding, "Your brothers in the Al Qaeda Organization in Iraq have been planning the Aqaba raid for a while. "
In the statement, the group referred to "Crusader American forces" in Jordan' port city of Aqaba and Eilat, Israel's neighboring port city.
Prime suspect arrested
Jordanian authorities had announced earlier the arrest of a prime suspect behind the attack.
According to the AP, the suspect, Mohammed Hassan Abdullah Al Sihly, a Syrian national, is reportedly linked to the Iraqi-based Abdullah Azzam Brigade of Al Qaeda. The same group was responsible for the July attacks in Sharm El Sheikh which claimed the lives of 64 people.
Al Sihly, a resident of Amman, had apparently been surveying the area of the attack since the beginning of August. He had reportedly planned to carry out the attack with his two sons, Abdullah and Abdul-Rahman, as well as a man identified as Hamid Hussein, an Iraqi who apparently led the group responsible for the attack.
The two sons and Hussein reportedly smuggled seven Katyusha rockets from Iraq across the Jordanian border in the modified fuel tank of their Mercedes-Benz automobile.
In Friday's attack, three Katyusha rockets were fired by use of a timer from a warehouse window on a hilltop in Aqaba. One rocket landed near a Jordanian hospital while another landed near the airport of nearby Israeli resort town Eilat.
Earlier in the week scores of suspects had been arrested by Jordanian security officials in connection with the attack.
According to Jordanian intelligence experts, the incident signals the opening of a new front for Al Qaeda against one of the US's closest allies, according to Reuters.
Zarqawi's group has vowed to punish Jordan's rulers for "aiding the treacherous enemy America", though Jordan has denied providing any logistical support to the US military campaign in Iraq.
It has revealed, however, its use of Jordan as a major supply route during its military campaign.