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Sources: Al Qaeda-linked Jordanian eyed in bombing

FBI team leads probe into embassy blast in Baghdad

From Mike Boettcher
CNN

Abu Musab al Zarqawi fled Afghanistan in 2002, according to the Bush administration.
Abu Musab al Zarqawi fled Afghanistan in 2002, according to the Bush administration.

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(CNN) -- Investigators of a car bomb attack at the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad are focusing on Abu Musab al Zarqawi, a Jordanian with ties to al Qaeda, as the possible mastermind of the deadly blast, CNN learned Friday.

The blast ripped into the embassy Thursday, killing at least 16 people, including five Iraqi guards, and wounding dozens more. (Full story)

Zarqawi, an associate of Osama bin Laden, has been named by the Bush administration as an al Qaeda terrorist who fled to Iraq from Afghanistan in May 2002 for medical treatment and then stayed to organize terror plots. He came to Iraq with about two dozen al Qaeda terrorists, according to the administration. (Full story)

In a document released Friday detailing the 100 days since major combat ended in Iraq, the White House referred to Zarqawi as a terrorist with intent to cause harm. Zarqawi was affiliated with Ansar al-Islam, which operated a training camp in northern Iraq that has come under coalition control. Members of Ansar al-Islam are believed to have dispersed after the U.S.-led invasion.

"The al Qaeda affiliate, Ansar al-Islam, is known to still be present in Iraq," the White House paper said. "Such terrorist groups are now plotting against U.S. forces in Iraq."

It goes on to describe the camp in northern Iraq as "al Qaeda's poisons/toxins laboratory" before the war.

The White House paper did not refer to Zarqawi as a possible suspect in the embassy bombing.

Investigators say analysis of the bomb and its detonators will provide clues into whether the attack was the product of homegrown terrorists or of a more-sophisticated al Qaeda plot.

The FBI has dispatched a team to lead the investigation. The team, made up of fewer than a dozen people, will help authorities in Baghdad investigate the blast by inspecting and analyzing evidence at the site.

"This attack was a terrorist atrocity, costing innocent Iraqis their lives. Whoever carried out this attack, and whatever their motives, they proved their total disregard for human life," the Coalition Provisional Authority said in a statement Friday.

L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, said the United States "will do all we can to help the Iraqi authorities find these people and bring them to justice.

"The coalition and the Iraqis have common cause and common aims in rooting out those who seek to intimidate and to terrorize."

Lt. Gen. Norton Schwartz, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday that Ansar al-Islam is one group "we are focusing attention on.

"They had, before the war, infrastructure in Iraq, and some of that remains," he said.

Zarqawi believed in Iran

Although the investigation is continuing, sources familiar with the probe said investigators are eyeing Zarqawi, who coalition intelligence analysts believe has been given refuge in Iran.

They said Zarqawi has a motive for attacking Jordan: A Jordanian court sentenced him to death two years ago in absentia for planning numerous terrorist attacks in the kingdom. He was also accused of overseeing the assassination of U.S. diplomat Lawrence Foley, who was gunned down in October in the capital, Amman.

Jordan is a key Arab ally in the U.S.-led war against terrorism, and Amman provided significant assistance to the United States during the war in Iraq.

Last week, bin Laden's No. 2 man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, issued an audiotape calling for attacks against the United States and its allies.

"We are saying to America one thing: What you saw with your eyes so far are only initial skirmishes," he said. "The real battle didn't start yet."

He added: "Those who are allies or helping America will pay the same price. Those who are handing over our brothers will pay the same price." (Full story)

In a speech in October detailing his administration's case against Iraq, President Bush, without referring to Zarqawi by name, said "one very senior al Qaeda leader" had received medical treatment in Baghdad in the past year. Secretary of State Colin Powell included a reference to Ansar al-Islam in his speech to the United Nations to build the case for war.

CNN producer Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.


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