AMMAN, Jordan — The U.S. Embassy was the target of a terror plot, its spokesman said Tuesday, after Jordanian government officials said Muslim militants believed to be linked to Al Qaeda had planned attacks in the moderate Arab country.
On Saturday, government officials said suspected terrorists believed linked to Al Qaeda were planning to attack sensitive Jordanian government institutions, but did not mention foreign embassies as potential targets. The officials declined to say which Jordanian establishments were targeted, but security has been tightened around public offices, especially the interior and prime ministries.
On Wednesday, the government said several terror suspects were detained when their vehicle, filled with explosives and detonators was detained in a Jordanian town near the Syrian border.
Embassy spokesman Justin Siberell told The Associated Press that while Jordanian authorities were interrogating the suspects, it “emerged that one of the targets was the U.S. Embassy” in Jordan.
In Washington, State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli confirmed the Jordanians captured some individuals who they believe were affiliated with the Al Qaeda network.
“As a result of their investigation, they discovered that among the targets these individuals were looking at was the American Embassy,” he said.
Jordanian officials were not immediately available for comment.
The suspects confessed to plotting a series of attacks in the kingdom, a close ally of the United States, Jordanian officials told AP. The officials said at least three vehicles — two which haven’t been found — carrying the suspects and explosives entered Jordan from neighboring Syria, claims that Damascus denies.
The government did not disclose how many suspects were detained, but said three remain at large.
Security was tightened outside the U.S. Embassy, located in Amman’s upscale Abdoun district, with several police vehicles and at least one troop carrier parked outside its front gate. A roadblock was erected on a main street leading to the embassy, widely known as the “fortress” because of its high walls and usually heavy police presence.
A message posted on the embassy’s Web site Monday warned Americans to be vigilant.
“The government of Jordan has announced that it has taken steps against a terrorist cell, which had targeted several government of Jordan facilities,” the message said. “We have been informed that subsequent information indicates that the American Embassy in Amman also was a target.”
“This development is a reminder that (Al Qaeda) continues to prepare to strike U.S. interests abroad,” it said.