DUBAI (Reuters) – Al Qaeda planned an attack on Jordanian intelligence services but not using chemical weapons as Amman has charged, according to a new audio tape purportedly from a leading al Qaeda figure aired on Friday.
Jordan said earlier this month it had foiled a major attack that could have killed thousands. The tape purporting to be the voice of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi accused Jordan of lying and of extracting “false” confessions from militants under torture.
Jordanian state television has aired what it said were confessions by captured militants linked to al Qaeda who said they had planned chemical attacks in Jordan, a key U.S. ally.
“Yes, the plan was to totally destroy the building of the intelligence apparatus,” the voice on the tape said in excerpts aired by an Arab satellite television station on Friday.
“(But) their claims of unimaginable casualties and that it was a chemical bomb that would have killed thousands of people is a pure lie…The chemical and poisonous bomb is a fabrication by the evil Jordanian mechanism,” he said in a full text of his statement carried on Islamist Web sites.
“God knows, that if we possessed such a bomb that we would not have hesitated for a second to avidly seek to strike Israeli cities such as Eilat, Tel Aviv and others.”
He said the bomb was made of primary substances available on the market as claimed by one of the captured militants, the head of the captured group Azmi Jayousi. The group did not intend to kill Muslims as Jordan claimed, the statement added.
“The Jordanian intelligence lied twice…to protect their masters and sponsors from the Jews and Christians,” he said, accusing Jordanian intelligence of helping their Israeli counterparts to penetrate Iraq.
It was not possible to verify the authenticity of the tape.
The arrested militants shown on television, who included Syrians, said they were ordered by Zarqawi to attack targets that included the U.S. embassy and intelligence headquarters.
The purported Zarqawi statement said the operation was meant to target “the black source of evil in our homeland.”
Jordan television showed pictures of the site of the alleged chemical plants and trucks that were to be used in the attacks.
The tape purporting to be Jordanian-born Zarqawi said the attack was to punish Jordanian authorities whom he accused of “infidelity” by aiding the “treacherous enemy” America.
He said they played a key role in the fall of Baghdad by helping U.S. intelligence.
“Jordan was and still is a support base for arms and ammunition supplies for the U.S. army occupying Iraq,” he said, adding Amman was also providing its air space to areas in Iraq.
A purported statement by Zarqawi last week claimed responsibility for suicide boat attacks on Iraq’s vital Basra oil terminal. U.S. authorities believe he is probably in Iraq.
“Jordanian intelligence…did its utmost to hunt the knights of Islam until its jails became the Arab Guantanamo,” he said referring to the U.S. base in Cuba holding al Qaeda suspects.
The Jordanian embassy in Iraq was one of the first to be attacked following the ouster of Saddam Hussein last April.