December 14, 2002 - Associated Press: Jordan arrests two in murder of RPCV Laurence Foley

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2002: 12 December 2002 Peace Corps Headlines: December 14, 2002 - Associated Press: Jordan arrests two in murder of RPCV Laurence Foley

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, December 14, 2002 - 4:27 pm: Edit Post

Jordan arrests two in murder of RPCV Laurence Foley

Read and comment on this story from the Associated Press on the arrest of two alleged al-Qaeda members in the killing of American diplomat Laurence Foley in Jordan in October. Mr. Foley was a RPCV who served in India from 1965 - 68 and was an Associate Peace Corps Director (APCD) in the Philippines in the early 1980's. Read the story at:

Jordan arrests two in U.S. diplomat's murder*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Jordan arrests two in U.S. diplomat's murder

Associated Press

Amman Police have arrested two alleged al-Qaeda members in the killing of an American diplomat in October, the information minister said Saturday.

Laurence Foley, 60, was shot at close range Oct. 28 in front of his home in Amman in a brazen killing that shocked Jordanians and the American diplomatic community in the normally safe Middle Eastern country.

Information Minister Mohammad Affash Adwan said in a statement broadcast on Jordanian television that the two men, Salem Saad bin Suweid, a Libyan, and Yasser Fatih Ibrahim, a Jordanian, both acknowledged belonging to al-Qaeda.

He said Mr. bin Suweid was trained in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and entered Jordan on a fake Tunisian passport.

Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher said the two men had confessed to Mr. Foley's killing. A source close to the investigation, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the men were arrested Dec. 3 and charged with plotting to carry out terror attacks and belonging to al-Qaeda.

According to the statement, the two men admitted to connections with Ahmed al-Kalaylah, a Jordanian fugitive also known as Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi. The information minister said Mr. al-Zarkawi gave the two suspects machine-guns, grenades and money to carry out terrorist attacks against embassies and foreign diplomats in Jordan.

Mr. Al-Zarqawi is believed to be a lieutenant of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. German officials say he was an al-Qaeda combat commander appointed to orchestrate attacks in Europe.

U.S. officials have said Mr. al-Zarqawi fled Afghanistan after the U.S. military campaign there began late 2001. American officials say he went to Iran, then Iraq where he underwent medical treatment and then on to Syria.

Jordan sentenced Mr. al-Zarqawi in absentia to 15 years in prison for conspiring to carry out terrorist attacks and for smuggling weapons into the country. Mr. al-Zarqawi and Loa'i Mohammed Haj Bakr al-Saqa, a Syrian, were named as conspirators in a foiled plot to bomb tourist sites in Jordan during millennium celebrations.

The U.S. government welcomed the news of the arrests and praised the Jordanian government for its co-operation throughout the investigation. Asked about possible extradition of the suspects, State Department spokesman Louis Fintor said he had no information about U.S. designs on prosecuting the men.

The two arrested men were in possession of ammunition and guns used in the Foley attack, and they admitted they had planned to smuggle surface-to-air missiles into Jordan, Mr. Adwan said.

Police also found ammunition and a plan for attacking "important targets" in Jordan, state-run TV quoted the minister as saying.

The minister said officials knew the pair were involved earlier but had withheld the information while the investigation continued.

They targeted Mr. Foley because he did not have a heavy security detail, Mr. Adwan said. They drove to his home the day of the killing in a rented car, the minister said. Mr. bin Suweid hid behind Mr. Foley's car and shot him with a 7 mm pistol with a silencer when the diplomat came out of his home, Mr. Adwan said.

Jordanian police rounded up dozens of Islamic militants for questioning on the day of the shooting.

Mr. Foley, originally from Oakland, Calif., was an administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development and was the first American diplomat assassinated in Jordan in decades.

In a voice recording thought to be by Osama bin Laden, made public last month, the speaker mentioned the Foley shooting amid a list of other attacks around the world believed to have been carried out by al-Qaeda.

The killing shocked Jordan's pro-western government, which has maintained close ties to Washington despite rising public anger over U.S. support for Israel and preparations for war against neighbouring Iraq.

Anti-American demonstrations are less common and smaller here than in other Arab capitals, and usually tied to protests against Israel.

Nevertheless, more than half of Jordan's five million people are of Palestinian origin, some with close ties to Palestinian extremist groups. Jordan and Iraq maintain close commercial links, and there is considerable traffic between the two countries.

At the time of the shooting, Jordanian police said the killing appeared to have been carried out by professionals who had been following Mr. Foley for some time to determine his schedule.

The killing also stunned the estimated 3,000-strong American community in Jordan, which generally considers Amman safe, despite occasional warnings of security threats.

U.S. Ambassador Edward Gnehm condemned the shooting as a "cowardly, criminal act" but refused to call it terrorist-related.

Security was immediately increased at embassies and diplomatic missions. In an unusual scene for Amman, red beret-clad special forces riding jeeps mounted with machine-guns escorted diplomatic vehicles through the city.

Mr. Foley had been working on projects to deliver clean drinking water and health care to poor Jordanians and provide loans to small businesses. Mr. Foley, a father of three, earlier worked for the Peace Corps in India and the Philippines and carried out USAID assignments in Bolivia, Peru, Zimbabwe and Jordan.

Mr. Gnehm said there had been no threats or warnings and denied that security had been lax outside the fortress-like walls of the sprawling embassy compound.

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