Jordan says its ambassador in Pakistan was the target of a kidnapping attempt

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Jordan’s ambassador to Pakistan targeted by plot

AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan’s ambassador to Pakistan was the target of a Taliban kidnap attempt foiled by authorities in Islamabad and is now safe, the Jordanian information minister said Tuesday.

The incident followed calls for attacks on the Jordanian government by an al-Qaida double agent who killed seven CIA operatives and a Jordanian agent in Afghanistan last December.

On Monday, Pakistani police announced the arrest of two highly experienced Taliban militants planning to attack top hotels and kidnap diplomats in Pakistan. The militants’ identities and their targets weren’t disclosed at the time.

Jordanian Information Minister Nabil Sharif said ambassador Saleh al-Jawarneh was the target of plot and was now safe in Jordan. He said Jordanian security was in contact with Pakistan for detailed information on the probe under way.

“We have great confidence in the ability of the Pakistani authorities to protect the Jordanian embassy and its staff in Islamabad,” Sharif told The Associated Press.

Jordan’s Islamabad embassy has 12 staff, including six accredited Jordanian diplomats.

Pakistani police spokesman Naeem Iqbal says investigators were questioning the two Taliban militants in custody about their plans to kidnap the Jordanian ambassador and attack a five star hotel and a club frequented by Westerners.

“They have confessed to having planned taking the targets,” Iqbal said. “Officers are questioning them about details of their plan.”

Jordan is a key U.S. Mideast ally and Israel’s peace partner. The moderate Arab kingdom has often been targeted by Islamic militants, including al-Qaida, which is closely allied with the Taliban.

In a posthumous video message last month, al-Qaida double agent Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, a Jordanian, called for attacks on members of Jordan’s intelligence agency and the need to overthrow its government, citing Jordan’s strong support for Washington.

“There is no solution to the situation in Jordan other than mobilizing to the land of jihad to learn the arts of war and train in them, then return to Jordan and begin operations,” he said.

In 2005, al-Qaida militants from Iraq carried out near simultaneous attacks on three Jordan-based luxury hotels, killing 60 people.


Associated Press Writer Chris Brummitt in Islamabad contributed to this report.

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