masked gunman 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Israeli authorities have foiled a plot by a Hamas militant to attack Israeli tourists at a hotel in neighboring Jordan, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office announced Tuesday.
A statement said Khader Shkeir, from the West Bank village of Ein Arik, was arrested on July 31. It gave no reason for the delay in announcing the arrest.
The statement said Shkeir admitted to planning the attack during a visit to Jordan in 2005 with an accomplice. It said the suspects chose the Radisson SAS hotel in Amman and a second hotel as their targets.
According to the statement, the pair planned to board a bus carrying tourists to the hotels and carry out a mass shooting attack. It said they bought two AK-47 automatic weapons for the attack, but the plan went awry when Jordanian authorities arrested Shkeir on suspicion of militant activity and deported him to the West Bank.
The statement said that Shkeir continued to work with Hamas after returning to the West Bank.
Shkeir has not been charged.
There was no immediate reaction from Jordan.
Hamas officials said they were not aware of the arrest and could not confirm whether Shkeir is a member of the group. But the officials cast doubt on the Israeli allegations, saying the group limits its military operations to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Still, relations between Hamas and Jordan have been strained.
In May 2006, the Jordanian government accused Hamas of plotting attacks in Jordan and smuggling arms into the country.
At the time, 20 Hamas suspects were arrested and later confessed on Jordanian television to plotting attacks. However, human rights groups have questioned the confessions, pointing to incidences of torture among Jordanian security officials.
Jordan also has voiced support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in his bitter conflict against Hamas. Hamas operatives overtook the Gaza Strip in mid-June after deadly battles against security forces loyal to Abbas' Fatah movement.
Islamic terrorists have carried out attacks aimed at foreigners in Jordan before. In 2005, Iraqi suicide bombers killed 60 people in three hotels in Amman.