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Analyst Says Jordan is Target Because of Anti-Terror Position - 2004-04-27

On Monday, Jordan televised what it said were confessions of captured militants with links to al-Qaida. The militants said they were planning chemical attacks in Jordan aimed at killing thousands of civilians.

On Jordanian television, one of the militants said he had purchased tons of chemicals for terrorist operations in Jordan. The terrorists' targets allegedly included Jordan's intelligence service, the prime minister's office and the U.S. embassy in Amman.

The head of the al-Quds Center for Political Studies in Jordan, Uraib el-Rantawi, says Jordan is no stranger to terrorism, and will likely continue to be targeted.

"Jordan is a target for terrorist groups, for al-Qaida for many years because Jordan has a strict position against terrorism," he said. "Jordan is serious in the international campaign against terrorism. Jordan is targeted by these organizations for many years and it will be targeted in the future because Jordan will not put down its position and its stance against terrorism, whether it is in Jordan or all over the world."

Mr. el-Rantawi says it is clear to him that those who participate in acts of terror in the name of Islam have been, as he put it, severely brainwashed. He says they have no regard for the lives of Arabs or Muslims.

The spokesman for the 22-member Arab League, Hossam Zaki, says terrorist groups are severely out of touch with mainstream society. But he blames the West, in part, because he says Western leaders failed to answer calls for help many years ago when Arab leaders, like Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, began discussing the threat of terrorism. Mr. Zaki says that call has since been answered in what he describes as a significant way.

But, he says fighting terrorism must also include action by Arab and other Muslim governments to educate their people that extremist groups are everyone's enemy. He says those who were planning attacks in Jordan illustrate his point.

"The average Arab citizen needs to be convinced that these people are not fighting on his behalf. And, that they are pursuing a very extremist agenda that would not lead to any good, that would lead to violence, bloodshed, chaos," he said. "These people have a very strange and completely unsupported view of the world today, of the situation in the Muslim world, in the Arab world. And, this is something that no Arab layman wants to see in our societies."

Mr. Zaki says for the past two decades the entire Middle East has been on an increased state of alert for terrorist activity. He says the arrests of the militants linked to al-Qaida in Jordan is evidence of that effort.

But Mr. Zaki says while many more arrests will occur, he warns it is very likely there will be more acts of terror as well. He suggests governments throughout the world take additional steps to deal with the problems that contribute to militancy and terrorism, including poor social and economic conditions that he says provide a breeding ground for hatred.