It seems the Israeli Ambassador to Jordan was the target of a bomb attack on his car earlier today (6pm). The AFP reports:
JERUSALEM â€” Israel’s ambassador to Jordan escaped unharmed in a bomb attack on his car in Jordan on Thursday, the Israeli foreign ministry said in a statement.
“In the afternoon there was a bomb attack on the car of the ambassador. There were no injuries and the convoy continued on its way,” the ministry said. It said Jordanian authorities were investigating the incident.
“The Israeli embassy convoy left Amman and was headed for the Hussein bridge when the blast occurred,” an Israeli diplomat told AFP in Amman by telephone, referring to the crossing between between Jordan and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, also known as Allenby bridge. The bridge stands about 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of Amman.
Israeli diplomats often travel home on Thursdays, the start of the Muslim weekend in Jordan, and return on Sundays to Jordan, which has had a peace treaty with the Jewish state since 1994. [source]
Information is still fairly limited at this time and local news is not covering it. Ammon News however has been quick to gather some interesting reports, one of which indicates that the blast was actually two roadside bombs that blew up in the Adaseeyeh area, which is actually a bit further up from the actual bridge and closer to Amman (I believe it’s technically in the Amman governorate). Ammon is also reporting that the former Israeli ambassador was also a passenger along with the current ambassador and another Israeli diplomat.
8:20pm: Israeli press is all over this story.
Haaretz is reporting that the Israeli ambassador was NOT in the motorcade of diplomats. However, Al Jazeera claims otherwise. The newspaper also claims that the Israeli Defense Force (better known as the Israeli Occupational Force here in Jordan) entered the Kingdom alongside Jordanian security. This is a bit confusing as I would imagine that happening only if the attack took place right near the bridge, and at this point the exact location isn’t exactly clear.
Ynet is reporting the blast happened 20km away from the bridge. If this is true then the IDF did seem to enter deep into Jordanian territory.
With what’s been happening lately in Jordan regarding terrorism, I am hoping this is not a backlash. That’s the last thing we need. Moufaq Mahadin of Arab Al Yawm is on Al Jazeera right now (8:43pm) criticizing Jordan’s role with the CIA-mukhabarat fiasco that has dominated local politics the past week or so.
8:54pm: Jordanian media seems to be officially reporting this now, with the news getting a brief mention on the 8pm nightly news and on Al Ghad’s site in the past half hour.
9:07pm: According to the Jerusalem Post, the Israeli embassy in Amman is on a 24-hour lock-down with employees not being able to leave without a security escort. Interestingly enough, the Post also calls it one of the most highly guarded Israeli embassies in the world. I don’t doubt that at all. The Post, along with other Israeli media, seem to be looking to Hizballah for responsibility of this attack, deemed to be a feared attempt to avenge the February 2007 assassination of Hizbullah’s Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus.
10:44pm: Better resolution pictures have been published by Reuters and the Associated Press…
11:03pm: Ynet, via al-Arabiya, is reporting that a taxi driver has been arrested as a suspect in the bombing. Ammon is also reporting this, adding that the suspect was nabbed after a police chase. That was pretty quick.
11:48pm: Jordanian foreign minister, Naser Judeh’s phone call to the Israeli ambassador, Danny Nevo – who it seems was definitely not in the convoy – is being reported by Haaretz now but they seem to be a bit behind on the news of the aforementioned taxi driver. Interestingly enough, Haaretz points out that this is the first time a road side bomb has been used in Jordan to target someone, with shooting being more of the Jordanian style. Let’s hope it’s the last.
02:36am: While the aressted taxi driver’s involvement is still under investigation, Israeli press has been concluding that more arrests will follow given the intricate nature of the attack – blaming Islamic extremists for the act (be they Hizballah, Hamas or Al-Queda). Jordan’s Al-Ghad seems to agree, quoting a senior official in the security apparatus as saying the attack could be attributed to Al-Queda. At this point any drawn conclusions are speculative at best, and one should be cautious of any eagerness by the Jordanian GID to tie this to an organization that embarrassed them a few days ago. The senior official also seems to point to the possibility of Al-Queda attempting to send a message that it has the capability to breach the GID’s legendary security grip.
Haaretz is calling this an attack of “good intelligence” but “poor execution.
More importantly, they also highlight that this is the second security breach for the GID (mukhabarat) in a month, which must be a historic record for the Kingdom. One can only help but wonder whether metaphoric heads will begin to the role at the mukhabarat soon, beginning with a resignation at the top:
Jordan’s security services, which control the country by taking stringent measures against terrorism and against those considered enemies of the royal family, began investigating the incident yesterday. It can be assumed that they are receiving assistance from Israeli intelligence. Security ties between the two countries are close, despite the periodic tensions between King Abdullah and Israeli government leaders. From the Jordanians’ point of view, they have failed at providing security to the Israeli representatives. This is Jordan’s second serious incident of terrorism against a friendly state in recent weeks. [source]