AMMAN: Several Iraqi suspects were arrested for allegedly planning bomb attacks on leading hotels and plotting to contaminate drinking water.
The hotels targeted house hundreds of journalists covering the invasion of Iraq, away from the ground battle frontline. They stay in Jordan with relief agency workers and non-uniformed American military officials whose number has increased lately.
A fire on the upper floor of one of the hotels was enough to heighten police and public jitters over possible suicide bombers roaming the city on jihad missions although the hotel staff insisted the blaze was due to an electrical short-circuit.
The Jordanian police who have been on high alert for possible bombers targeting establishments frequented by Westerners was also reported to have uncovered another plot to kill American soldiers.
It is said that the plot was aimed at contaminating a water tank used to supply US troops near the border.
Thousands of Anglo-American-Aussie troops are believed to be operating secretly at the Jordanian-Iraqi border as part of a western front attack in a pending battle for Baghdad.
Classifying the alleged plots as “matters of security,” the Political Affairs and Information Minister Mohammad Adwan declined to give details except to say on Tuesday that the two cases were under investigations.
The American embassy, closed for several days immediately after the pre-emptive strikes and later re-opened, was the most tightly guarded by more than 100 security personnel walking around the block near the posh Abdoun mall.
On Maysaloon street, the Israeli consulate is another security fortress, where no demonstrator is allowed to go near.
Officials of the two embassies are scorned by the Jordanian public unlike that of the French and German, which received representatives of local social and political organisations registering appreciation for their respective governments' stand.
Protests and political tension had been high in the streets of Amman, at times turning fiery, especially on Fridays, as boiling Arab anger keeps rising on seeing dramatic images of dying civilians and children.
This has brought different ideological and professional background together which local media analysts say might eventually be a threat to the ruling elite of Jordan, one of several countries that recently sent off Iraqi embassy officials on security grounds.
o LAST week, a group of prominent personalities, including opposition Islamic party leaders, former prime ministers and ex-senior intelligence officers signed a petition asking King Abdullah to declare the war against Iraq as illegal.
“A brotherly Arab state that has always been a loyal supporter of Arab countries is facing an aggressive war and its people are threatened by occupation, death and humiliation.
“It is a moral, national and legal duty of all Arab governments, including Jordan, to clearly denounce the illegitimacy of the aggression on Iraq.
“We honestly believe Jordan’s tension requires such a strategic stand and hope your Majesty feels the same pain we feel for the destruction and massacre the Iraqi people face,” wrote the petitioners in a country where any hint of opposition or criticism of the royalty meant instant jail and charges of treason.
Repeating its call on Monday for the government to expel US troops in Jordan as “their existence was inexcusable,” the Muslim Brotherhood Movement urged Jordanians to boycott American and British tourists and stop providing them any assistance.
The Brotherhood’s political arm – the Islamic Action Front – went further, urging members of the Iraqi opposition to get behind fellow Iraqis in their fight against the American war machinery.
Its statement read: “The IAF sincerely calls on the hesitant Iraqi opposition, still backing Bush and Blair, to be decisive and to stand by its nation before it goes down in history as part of the enemy against its nation and homeland.”
Such statements may be seen as a mild rhetoric call for jihad to the outside eye but not for Jordanians who fear a violent backlash if Iraq falls to the invading foreign forces.