11 Jordan aides resign after bombings at hotels
Officials announce antiterror rules; foreigners targeted
AMMAN, Jordan -- Eleven leading Jordanian officials, including the national security adviser, resigned yesterday after the three deadly hotel bombings of last week, and the government imposed tough new rules that were aimed at foreigners.
Another American death, the fourth, was reported. The victim, who was not identified, died of wounds sustained in the attacks, according to the US Embassy. This raised the total death toll to 58 victims, along with the deaths of the three bombers.
The US national intelligence director, John Negroponte, met officials in Amman to praise Jordan's response to the attacks, according to official media. Authorities, meanwhile, questioned the sole surviving attacker about Al Qaeda's network in Iraq.
In addition, two Interpol forensic specialists came to Amman to ''exchange information and expertise in the field of fighting crime," the Petra news agency said.
More details emerged about Sajida Mubarak al-Rishawi, who was arrested Sunday after the suicide bombings. Authorities said she had planned a bombing.
Rishawi's husband and two 23-year-old Iraqis allegedly carried out the bombings at the Radisson SAS, the Grand Hyatt and the Days Inn hotels.
In a televised confession, Rishawi has said her 22-pound explosives belt did not detonate, though her husband's did, killing more than 20 wedding partygoers at the Radisson.
Al Qaeda in Iraq, purportedly led by a Jordanian, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, claimed responsibility for the Nov. 9 attacks in an Internet statement.
Two of Rishawi's friends said three of her brothers, including a known Al Qaeda in Iraq cell leader in the former insurgent bastion of Fallujah, had been killed by US forces last year.
The friends, from Iraq's troubled western province of Anbar, spoke on condition of anonymity because, they said, they feared retribution from militants.
It was unclear if her brother's deaths had spurred Rishawi to take part in the plot or if she had been influenced by her 35-year-old husband, who, authorities said, appeared to have been the attack cell leader.
Police say Rishawi, who comes from Ramadi in western Iraq, may provide vital clues to Al Qaeda in Iraq and possibly Zarqawi's whereabouts. But her interrogation is going slowly; there were reports of an increasing sense that she had played only a small part in the operation.
The questioning is expected to last a month, and Zarqawi will be tried in a Jordanian military court, where she could be charged with conspiring to carry out a deadly terrorist attack. That crime can be punished by death.
In another development, Interior Minister Awni Yirfas announced regulations yesterday aimed at keeping foreign militants from operating covertly in Jordan, including a demand that Jordanians notify authorities within 48 hours of any foreigners renting an apartment or a house.
''Violators of this regulation will face legal ramifications," Yirfas said. He declined to elaborate.
The rules require that authorities be given the names, nationalities, and passport details of any foreigner renting a property.
''Usually I give such information about any foreign tenants I have, but I think the move is necessary now as a result of the attacks," said a property owner, Suleiman Rakan, whose building faced a block in western Amman's Tlaa Ali suburb, where the purported hotel bombers had allegedly rented a safe house.
No details were given for the resignations of the 11 top officials, who included the national security adviser, Saad Kheir, and the Royal Court chief and a former prime minister, Faisal Fayez.
But the bombings sparked national outrage and raised concerns over the handling of the national security services.
Jordan has also started drafting new antiterrorism laws that will probably be ready for parliament debate early next year, an Interior Ministry official said.
The laws propose allowing any suspect to be held for questioning indefinitely and imposing penalties on those who put lives or property at risk, inside or outside the country, the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he had not been authorized to speak to the media.
Anyone condoning or justifying terror actions or supporting them financially will face penalties under the proposals, he added.
Jordanian security forces wield far-reaching powers, but the new laws would be the country's first designed to counter terrorism.