A top al-Qaida operative is reported to be denying charges that his group planned
a massive chemical weapons attack in Jordan. An audiotape attributed to the operative
was broadcast Friday on an Islamic web site.
The speaker on the audiotape was identified as senior al-Qaida operative
Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi.
The man on the tape says Jordanian officials manufactured lies earlier this
week when they broadcast the confessions of al-Qaida suspects linked to the
In the broadcast, the suspects said they were plotting to carry out al-Qaida's
first chemical weapons attack. The suspects said the attack would have been
against Jordan's intelligence headquarters in Amman, the prime minister's office
and the U.S. embassy.
Jordanian officials said the group was planning a chemical attack that could
have killed 80,000 people in a two-square kilometer area.
But, the man on Friday's audiotape said while Jordan's intelligence headquarters
was targeted for attack, al-Qaida does not have chemical weapons and would
not use such weapons against Arabs.
In recent years, terrorist attacks in several Middle Eastern countries have
targeted and killed hundreds of Arab Muslims using conventional explosives.
The expert on terrorism at the al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies
in Cairo, Hala Mustafa, says in her view, anything said by terrorist groups cannot
be believed. Ms. Mustafa says one of the main goals of terrorism is to keep people
confused and scared.
Al Ahram Center
"We should take into consideration that you are dealing with political and
operational leaders of an underground organization with its offshoots from
many small groups," Ms. Mustafa said. "So, I think I should take any statement
with many, many reservations. So, no I think this is a kind of statement which
tries to confuse things. So, I would say that I can't believe what they are
The voice on the audiotape said al-Qaida has disputes to settle with the
Jordanian government, and warned of a bitter future for Jordan.
U.S. officials have offered a $10 million reward for the capture of Abu Mussab
al-Zarqawi. U.S. military officials in Baghdad said earlier this month they
believe he may be directing al-Qaida operations in Iraq from the besieged city