Sunday, June 26, 2005

Iraq, WMDs, and al-Zarqawi: the Jordan Trial

Picture credit: CNN
Excel web sharing - spreadsheet collaboration over the Internet made easy with BadBlueI haven't seen much coverage of a trial that's taking place in Jordan. Thirteen men affiliated with al Qaeda are accused of planning to detonate chemical weapons on instructions from Musab al-Zarqawi.

"They sought to disperse poisonous gases which would have caused death, illnesses and blindness," Col. Najeh al-Azam testified. al-Azam is a chemical expert in Jordan's Security Services, which investigated the group and foiled the plot in April of 2004.

Jordanian officials believe that if the attack been carried out, thousands of people would have perished.

The Guardian elaborates:

...Islamic militants planned to detonate an explosion that would have sent a cloud of toxic chemicals across Jordan, causing death, blindness and sickness, a chemical expert testified in a military court Wednesday.

...The accused include al-Qaida's leader in Iraq, Abu-Musab Al-Zarqawi, and three other fugitives who are being tried in absentia...

CNN discusses the links between the suspects and al-Zarqawi in more depth:

Azmi Jayyousi (CNN)

Jordanian intelligence suspects Jayyousi returned from Iraq in January after a meeting with al-Zarqawi in which they allegedly plotted to hit the three targets in Amman.

In a series of raids, the Jordanians said, they seized 20 tons of chemicals and numerous explosives. Also seized were three trucks equipped with specially modified plows, apparently designed to crash through security barricades.

The first alleged target was the Jordanian intelligence headquarters. The alleged blast was intended to be a big one.

"According to my experience as an explosives expert, the whole of the Intelligence Department will be destroyed, and nothing of it will remain, nor anything surrounding it," Jayyousi said.

John at Powerline notes:

...after the fall of Afghanistan at the end of 2001, Zarqawi and other al Qaeda veterans made their way to Iraq, where, secure under the wing of Saddam Hussein, they plotted chemical weapons attacks on countries friendly to the U.S., as well as the murder (successfully carried out) of an American diplomat. And yet, to this day it remains an article of faith on the left that Saddam's Iraq was a kite-flyer's paradise with no connection to international terrorism, no relations with al Qaeda, and, of course, no chemical weapons. Maybe the current trial will reveal where the chemicals assembled for the attack on Jordan came from; maybe it won't. But we don't need any new information to understand that Saddam's regime protected and supported the deadliest of al Qaeda's terrorists.

And how do we know Zarqawi ended up in Iraq after the fall of Afghanistan? From numerous reports, including those published by the traditional neocon press outlets including the New York Times and al Jazeera:

According to Jordanian court documents, after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Zarqawi left for Iraq via Iran, eventually settling in the corner of northern Iraq controlled by Ansar al-Islam.[79]

The next known sighting of Zarqawi came from Jordanian officials, who claim that they spotted Zarqawi on Sept. 9, 2002, when he illegally entered Jordan from Syria.[80]

A month later, senior American diplomat, Laurence Foley, was murdered outside his home in Amman. Jordanian agents arrested three men involved in the killing who claimed that they had been recruited, armed, and paid by Zarqawi. He was sentenced to death in absentia. Court documents claim that Zarqawi planned and financed the operation during his stay in Iraq.[81]

So, just to recap, a major terrorist leader affiliated with Al Qaeda used Iraq as a base of operations prior to the U.S. invasion. Not only did he orchestrate the murder of a senior American diplomat, but he was knee-deep in a WMD-attack designed to kill thousands.

No, there's no story here. Just go about your business.

PowerLine: Pay No Attention to the Terrorists Behind the Curtain