Analysis of the Jordan Bombings
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Also in Amman is Daoud Kuttab. He's a columnist for the Jordan Times, and he says suspicion for the blasts is focusing on al-Qaeda.
Mr. DAOUD KUTTAB (Jordan Times): There is a lot of people talking about al-Qaeda and Zarqawi. You know, Zarqawi is a Jordanian citizen who is responsible for many of the attacks in Iraq. And he's more than once threatened Jordan and Jordanian government and Jordanian tranquility with bombings. So--in fact, there was a number of impromptu demonstrations attacking and denouncing Zarqawi.
BLOCK: This is Zarqawi, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq but born in Jordan.
Mr. KUTTAB: Yes.
BLOCK: And what is his network in the country?
Mr. KUTTAB: I don't know. You know, there's always cold cases going and coming, people being arrested on accusations of being involved or planning for some kind of a terrorist attack. So it's not clearly whether they're directly connected to him or other networks, but, you know, there's always talk about networks. You know, about a few months ago there was an attack from Aqaba--some kind of a Katyusha rocket attack from Aqaba towards Israel, and there was misfired, and one Jordanian was killed. So, there is knowledge that there's something or there was the expectation of something happening, but nobody knew when it will happen.
BLOCK: That attack in Aqaba was on US warships in the port, I believe.
Mr. KUTTAB: Yes, it was on US and also on Israel.
BLOCK: It should be noted that one of these hotels that was bombed tonight was also part of a millennium bombing plot that was foiled, the Radisson.
Mr. KUTTAB: The--yes, both the Radisson and the Hyatt were involved. And I think the Radisson, there was a wedding, a local wedding, and, unfortunately, some of the people who were attending the wedding were killed or injured. And the bombings were concurrent. So there was two bombings at the Radisson SAS 10 minutes apart. So when people came and tried to help, there was another bombing.
BLOCK: Fair to say that Jordan, Amman certainly, has never seen anything like this before?
Mr. KUTTAB: Absolutely. I think neither Jordan nor Amman has seen anything like this since the '70s, when there was internal war between the Palestinians and the Jordanians. But--and Jordan has been benefiting in the last few years because of its being an oasis of tranquility in the midst of Iraq and Palestine and the conflicts there. The prices of land and property have been skyrocketing. The stock market is also going up. So the country was benefiting a lot from this tranquility, which was shattered today.
BLOCK: I understand King Abdullah has been out of the country. He's heading back. What would you expect the government response to be?
Mr. KUTTAB: It's not clear what the government will respond--I mean, certainly it's not going to change any of its policies. I would assume there will be much more security, certainly, at public places like hotels. My hunch is that the government and the country will do its best to try to clean up quickly and trying to present a country that is normal and tranquil and things are back to normal as soon as possible because that's a major source of the country's economic prosperity, and they will not want that shattered. Whether they will be able to catch or foil this network or other networks, I'm sure there will be a lot more attempts to do that. And, of course, there is theory that the possibility that rights and freedoms will be curtailed. It's always a threat...
Mr. KUTTAB: ...when things like that happen, that the country will--they will head back to emergencylike regulations and so on.
BLOCK: Daoud Kuttab, thanks very much.
Daoud Kuttab is a columnist for the Jordan Times. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.