|Jordan tightens security
15/11/2005 23:03 – (SA)
Amman – Stung into action by deadly hotel bombings, Jordan slapped on tough new security rules on Tuesday.
This includes a demand that citizens report the identities of any foreigners renting flats or houses.
Eleven top Jordanian officials, including the national security adviser, also resigned in a post-attacks shake-up.
A fourth American died of wounds from the attacks, according to the United States embassy.
The death took to 61 the number of people killed, including three bombers.
Interrogators quizzed the sole surviving member of the Iraqi attack team on Tuesday to see what she knew about al-Qaeda’s network in Jordan’s war-ravaged neighbour.
More details emerged about Sajida Mubarak al-Rishawi, the would-be bomber arrested on Sunday after the triple suicide bombings carried out by her husband and two 23-year-old Iraqis on the Radisson SAS, Grand Hyatt and Days Inn hotels.
Husband a cell leader
Three of her brothers, one of them a known al-Qaeda in Iraq cell leader in Fallujah, were killed by US forces last year, according to friends of the would-be bomber.
It was unclear if her brother’s deaths spurred her to take part in the plot, or if she was influenced by her 35-year-old husband, who appeared to be the Jordan attack cell’s leader.
Police believe al-Rishawi may provide vital clues to al-Qaeda in Iraq and possibly al-Zarqawi’s whereabouts.
But her interrogation is believed to be going slowly among an increasing sense that she played just a bit-part in a bigger operation.
In a bid to keep foreign militants from operating covertly here, interior minister Awni Yirfas announced new regulations demanding all Jordanians notify authorities within 48 hours of any foreigners renting an apartment or house.
“Violators of this regulation will face legal ramifications,” Yirfas said without elaborating.
Suspects can be held indefinitely
Jordan has also started drafting tough new anti-terrorism laws that probably will be ready for parliamentary debate early next year, said a top interior ministry official.
The laws propose allowing any suspect to be held for questioning indefinitely and imposing penalties on “those who would expose the lives and properties of citizens to danger inside and outside the country”, an official said.
Jordanian security forces already wield far-reaching powers to arrest and hold suspects, but the proposed laws would be the country’s first specifically designed to counter terrorism.
Movie producer ‘sized up’
Security officials, a landlord who rented a safe house to the Iraqis and a DJ playing music at the Radisson wedding provided startling new insights into the plot, its execution and aftermath.
The Hyatt bomber, believed to be Rawad Jassem Mohammed, sized up American-Syrian movie producer Mustapha Akkad at a hotel coffee shop before going to a toilet with another Iraqi man to don his suicide belt, a security official close to the investigation said.
Mohammed returned minutes later, the bulkiness of his bomb under his clothes apparent and walking with difficulty, before blowing himself up near Akkad and his daughter, Rima, the official cited witnesses as saying.
At the Radisson, al-Shamari stood on a table during a wedding reception before blowing himself up, said the same official, who cited witness accounts.
Lights in sections of both the Radisson and Hyatt went out in – apparent – co-ordinated fashion just before the near-simultaneous blasts.
A DJ at the Radisson wedding recalled how the ballroom where the party was being held mysteriously descended into darkness.
“The lights at the wedding hall went off seconds, maybe just one second, before the blast, although there was electricity outside the room,” said DJ Fadi al-Kessi.
Fled from the hotel
“For some reason, I looked to my right in the darkness and saw what looked liked lightening, then there was a loud boom.
“It felt like the explosion came from the ceiling, then people started running out.”
Al-Rishawi confessed to fleeing from the Radisson with wedding guests after her husband blew himself up.
Her interrogation is expected to last for a month and she will be tried in a Jordanian military court, where she could be charged with conspiring to carry out a terrorist attack that killed people, which carries the death penalty.
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