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(photo credit: AP)
Jordan announced Monday the arrest of an unidentified leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, saying the man was responsible for kidnapping and killing Jordanians and Arabs and robbing commercial trucks driving between the kingdom and Iraq.
"Jordan's General Intelligence Department revealed today that it has arrested an official with al-Qaida in Iraq who has committed several crimes that included robbing trucks, kidnapping and killing Jordanian citizens and other Arabs," the announcement on state television said.
The suspect was an Arab, most likely from Iraq, where he was arrested, said Jordanian security officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Iraqi Interior ministry Lt. Col. Ali Rashid said that his ministry had no information about the arrest and was not involved in the operation.
Jordan's intelligence department is known to be one of the most efficient security agencies in the Arab world. It coordinates closely and shares intelligence data with the United States, including US forces in Iraq.
In the past, Jordanian agents have teamed with their American counterparts on interrogations of insurgents in Iraq. But the latest arrest was the first confirmation by the Jordanian intelligence agency that it has agents operating independently in Iraq.
The announcement on Jordanian television said more information, including specifics on al-Qaida plots, would be broadcast in a special program Tuesday night.
The top leader of Al-Qaida in Iraq, Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has claimed responsibility for several terror attacks against his native country, including triple hotel blasts last November 9 in the Jordanian capital which killed 63 people, including three Iraqi suicide bombers.
Al-Zarqawi's group has claimed responsibility for scores of kidnappings, beheadings and suicide bombings in neighboring Iraq.
The group opposes Jordan's moderate stance on Islam, its longtime alliance with the United States and the peace treaty it signed with Israel in 1994.
A Jordanian military court has sentenced Al-Zarqawi to death three times for terror attacks, including the October 2002 slaying of US official Laurence Foley, who was gunned down outside his Amman home.