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Amanpour: A 'matter of time' for Jordan

Nation targeted by hotel blasts stands out as American ally

Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour


Acts of terror

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Three suspected suicide bombings hit hotels frequented by westerners in downtown Amman, Jordan, Wednesday night, killing dozens of people and wounding many more.

CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer spoke with Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour after the explosions about the security situation in Jordan, a U.S. ally in the war on terror that borders Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

AMANPOUR: This is sadly one of those things that people thought was a matter of time. Look, we've seen things going on now in the last several months or years, whether it be various Arab capitals, whether it be European capitals.

The [method of operation] is the same. The suspects or the perpetrators are either al Qaeda or people who believe in the al Qaeda ideology.

Jordan itself stands out in the Arab world as being one of the very close American allies. It stands out as being one of the only two countries in the Arab world that has relations with Israel.

It is not just next door to Iraq, but it has become de facto the center of business for people who cannot go and do business in Iraq. They're not just business people there, they're all sort of [nongovernmental organizations] and Iraqi governmental organizations which have simply decamped from Baghdad and [are] doing their work in Iraq.

And, as you know, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and those terrorists [in Iraq] have targeted Iraqi ministers and all kinds of Iraqi infrastructure and diplomats dealing with Iraq. Whether or not this is the case in this instance is unclear, but Jordan has long been a potential target.

We saw an American warship was potentially targeted back [in August] in Aqaba. We saw just before the millennium there was a plot foiled which could have led to a potential chemical attack, and Jordan has long known that it has to watch out very, very carefully.

BLITZER: The times that you've gone through Amman on your way to Baghdad or elsewhere in the region -- talk a little about the security that you witness there. A lot of the security is invisible. And we know Jordanian security personnel are first-rate, but what was it like?

AMANPOUR: Security in Jordan is what it is. We see it at the airport when we come back in. There is a police presence. There is police at many of the hotels that we go to. Sometimes, you have to pass through a metal detector or a police search as you go through the front doors.

But it's not like some of the dictatorships around the Arab world, where it is absolutely intrusive at all times.

Jordan has had a long cooperation in terms of its intelligence and military services, not just with the United States but with many of the Western countries, and, indeed, with Israel and other countries around that area. They're very sophisticated.

They've thwarted various plots in the past. And sometimes, as we've seen in many other capitals, including in London last summer, sometimes they get through. And these bear the same hallmarks as what happened in London.

In London it was on the [transit system]; here, it's in hotels, as it has been in other parts of the Middle East. This is what happened in Sharm al-Sheik [in Egypt] several times. ...

Don't forget that in the last few weeks, we've had several messages from [Ayman al-] Zawahiri, ... Osama bin Laden's No. 2, who has continued to threaten that these attacks will continue.

They have declared a global jihad on the United States and on all countries that support any kind of a policy or democracy such as the United States. ...

This seems to be along the lines of what they constantly have threatened. ... Messages from al-Zawahiri have been brought to light over the last several weeks saying that this is going to continue.

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