U.S. Released One of the Amman Bombers in 2004

Suspected bomber in Jordan detained, released by U.S. forces in ’04

One of the suspected suicide bombers in the deadly attacks on three luxury hotels in Jordan’s capital apparently was detained and released last year by U.S. forces in Iraq who determined that he was not a threat to security, a U.S. military spokesman said Sunday.

The name of one of the male attackers, Safah Mohammed Ali, matches the name of a man who was detained for about two weeks during fierce clashes between insurgents and U.S. Marines in Iraq’s western insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, said the military spokesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“A detainee by the name of Safah Mohammed Ali was detained for a period of about two weeks at a division holding area in November 2004 as a result of operations in Fallujah,” the spokesman wrote in an e-mail response to Knight Ridder. “A review of the circumstances of his capture by the unit determined there was no compelling evidence that he was a threat to the security of Iraq and he was therefore released.”

The spokesman emphasized that the U.S. military could not be certain that the detainee was the same man who allegedly blew himself up in Amman last week. In Iraq, however, those who knew Ali said they were sure it was the same person.

The spiritual leader of the rebel council that ruled Fallujah when it fell under insurgent control said in a phone interview that he remembered Ali as a fighter in the Black Banners Brigade. That Fallujah cell was led by Omar Hadid, a local insurgent who rose to prominence as a close associate of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born leader of al-Qaida in Iraq. Hadid later died in clashes with the U.S. military.

The spiritual leader, or mufti, said Ali’s anti-American stance was hardened after he was detained by U.S. forces in the same mosque where a Marine shot to death an unarmed Iraqi man in a controversial incident captured on video by an embedded American TV journalist. The military ruled the shooting justified.

Ali’s co-workers at an Iraqi Ministry of Industry factory in Fallujah described him as a computer specialist who was badly injured while fighting U.S. forces in the offensive last year. They said he disappeared after his release from U.S. custody.

“He never showed up to work again,” said Salam Ali, who is no relation to the bombing suspect. “I asked his family and they said, `We don’t know where he is.’ When I saw the name on TV today, I was shocked knowing that a colleague of mine would blow himself up in Amman.” [Full Article]

I honestly cannot say for certain how authentic these reports are. I suggest anyone reading this take what is said with a grain of salt.

In other news…

HM King Abdullah has said that the bombings had nothing to do with American targets, stating on NBC:

“This was nothing to do with the West. This targeted Jordanian citizens: innocent men, women and children,” he said, vowing to bring those responsible for the deadly attacks to justice.

Judging by today’s earlier confession and the amount of awareness that went into going to a wedding and attempting to blow herself up, I’m starting to believe this statement more and less of Zarqawi’s “American/Zionist secret meeting” charade.

But you know, we do need to review our foreign policy in regards to the strong positioning with the west. Because although there could be some truth to “this has nothing to do with the west”, I don’t think it helped.

In similar news...

The Clintons were in town to view the devestation. Chelsea even cut the trip to Israel short to grace us with her presence.

The former President said “To tie the attack to the friendship between King Abdullah and the United States, is ridiculous,”

Again I can’t help but think…I don’t think it helped.


  • Nas, what kind of changes in policies are we talking about here? I don’t see that we are positioned with the west in a bad way. I think we only need to reach a higher level of political communication with our own people as well as other countries’ people. Eventhough I’m not sure how to do that, how to explain ourselves to others and correct misconceptions about Jordan.
    I first thought why not emphasize on our relationships with countries in the Arab World, this way we can actually position ourselves differently with regard of Israel and the US. But then I remembered that its impossible, we are rejected by everyone, sadly we stand alone.

  • SC, I do agree that we are a stand alone nation in the middle east.. this incident doesn’t necessarily require a change in the policy, but it does demand a review of it. Had the American invasion of Iraq never happened then in all liklihood neither would this attack on Amman. That fact deserves some attention

  • I think that last note deserves a little consideration, honestly. There is little doubt that the war on Iraq has precipitated a great deal of activity in the Middle East. And, one could step back and say that the attack on 9/11 precipitated that US action. That’s not to suggest that either action was justified, only to see the dominos fall. There were and are people that look to such situations and see them as opportunity.

    Some of the opportunities that have been taken may well have positive consequence. Some have had the most tragic consequence in decades.

    One thing is certain, the further we get from 9/11 and the war in Iraq the clearer will be the lines of consequence and any assignment of “good” or “bad” to those actions. Many think it would’ve been better to leave Saddam sitting. But eventually that would have to come to something ill. Many also thought around the world that the USA needed a good hard slap. And they rejoiced when the towers fell. They are, of course, on the opposite side of the isle of both those positions. Regardless of viewpoint, both these actions are related. They are continuing to reverberate in the Middle East and the world at large.

    My heart just weeps that it had to come home to Amman.

  • Jeff, I do agree with you that there is a domino effect obviously that lead to Amman being one of those falling pieces, however in tracing it we would be hear all day discussing which came first, the chicken or the egg.

    Of all the elements and factors that played out here I think the most immediate one would have to be the Jordan-US relationship, specifically in relation the Iraqi war. The state’s position is far removed from the people’s position, and the only reason I want to see a review of such policies is simply because we cannot have a situation where the people are paying for the sins of the state.

  • I’ll try to write more on this point later, but as Natasha mentioned in a post, the people nearly always pay the price for their government’s actions. Many have spoken to this regarding 9/11, saying the chickens came home to roost, so to speak; actions the US took abroad came home.

    But it is an argument that cuts both ways. The people, without doubt, do pay and sometimes they pay a terrible price. But they also benefit from these relationships, sometimes without their knowledge. I’m not going to argue that one outweighs the other or even balances it here. I’ll just say that it’s a situation that cuts both ways. US-Jordanian relations have had many benefits. And in the case of 9/11-Amman, I cannot argue, these relations have had some terrible consequences. BTW I think the king was smart to steer the discussion away from this fact, but it’s obvious to all that the relationship played a role.

  • Jeff, we agree on this point. Our relationship with the US has been based mostly on reaping benefits. In fact there is little invested in this relationship other than that. Which is why I am saying they need to be reviewed, not destroyed or cut. Jordan simply needs to know when it has gone too far and when it needs to get benched for a bit.

Your Two Piasters: