AMMAN, Jordan – Serene Husseini fears for the safety of her children. Sana Naji might leave Jordan over terrorism worries. Scared buyers are staying home rather than venturing into Samia Dabbas’ clothing shop. Such concerns were evident across Amman on Tuesday after state-run TV showed suspected al-Qaida-linked terrorists confessing to planning large-scale bomb attacks in Jordan’s capital.
A TV commentator said the attackers hoped to kill 80,000 people.
Naji told The Associated Press she was thinking of leaving Jordan for home.
“It’s not safe here anymore,” she said.
The terror suspects said they were plotting al-Qaida’s first chemical bomb attack against Jordanian targets, including the intelligence department, the prime minister’s office and the U.S. Embassy.
“I was scared to death and the first question that came to mind was ‘what should I do with my children,'” said Husseini, a 38-year-old mother of two boys.
“I’m afraid this isn’t the end of it and that there might be others plotting to harm us.”
At an Amman bus stop, 23-year-old commuter Ammar Taher said the terror plot “was the talk of everybody aboard the bus.”
“We’re all scared because we never thought the terrorists would come so close to do us harm,” he said.
Such talk is uncommon in Jordan, where terror attacks blamed on al-Qaida and other groups elsewhere in the world normally attract little attention by a public that enjoys relative safety in the volatile Middle East.
Three weeks ago, critics claimed the government had exaggerated the latest al-Qaida terror danger to justify tightening security across Jordan. Since late March, increased numbers of police began appearing in streets, outside ministries and shopping malls.
But officials in Jordan, a moderate Arab nation with close ties to America and a peace treaty with Israel, say the kingdom has been repeatedly targeted by al-Qaida and other militant groups.
“Who’s in the mood to buy anything when the country is under a terror threat?” Dabbas told an AP reporter who visited her downtown Amman clothes store, which was empty of shoppers.
Jamil Abu-Bakr, a spokesman for the powerful Islamic Action Front, said the terrorists should not have planned to attack Arabs and Muslims.
Instead, he said, they should point their “guns at the enemy occupying (Muslim) lands in Palestine and Iraq,” a reference to Israel and America.
Jordanian security forces have detained six terror suspects in three operations since late March. It is unclear when they will stand trial.