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King Abdullah: Al Qaeda WMDs Came From Syria


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Jordan's King Abdullah revealed on Saturday that vehicles reportedly containing chemical weapons and poison gas that were part of a deadly al Qaeda bomb plot came from Syria, the country named by U.S. weapons inspector David Kay last year as a likely repository for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

"It was a major, major operation. It would have decapitated the government," King Abdullah told the San Francisco Chronicle. Jordanian officials estimated that the death count could have been as high as 20,000 - seven times greater than the Sept. 11 attacks.

Abdullah said that trucks containing 17.5 tons of explosives had come from Syria, though he took pains not to implicate Syrian President Bashir Assad in the al Qaeda plot, saying, "I'm completely confident that Bashir did not know about it."

In his testimony before Congress last year, Mr. Kay said U.S. satellite surveillance showed substantial vehicular traffic going from Iraq to Syria just prior to the U.S.attack on March 19, 2003 attack.

While Kay said investigators couldn't be sure the cargo contained weapons of mass destruction, one of his top advisors described the evidence as "unquestionable."

"People below the Saddam-Hussein-and-his-sons level saw what was coming and decided the best thing to do was to destroy and disperse," said James Clapper, in comments reported by the New York Times on Oct. 29. Clapper heads up the National Imagery and Mapping Agency.

Israeli intelligence has long believed that after the U.S. delayed invasion plans to allow U.N. weapons inspectors time to search for Iraq's WMDs, Saddam moved the banned weapons to Syria, the only other country where the Ba'ath Party ruled.

On April 1, Jordanian officials announced the arrest of several terrorist suspects, saying they were still hunting for two cars filled with explosives.

Five days later, the State Department revealed the attackers were linked to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian-based terrorist considered to be one of al Qaeda's most dangerous. One of Zarqawi's targets was the U.S. embassy in Amman.

By Saturday morning European news services were quoting an unnamed Jordanian official who revealed that the al Qaeda plotters planned to use weapons of mass destruction in the foiled attack.

"We found primary materials to make a chemical bomb which, if it had exploded, would have made nearly 20,000 deaths ... in an area of one square kilometre," the official told Agence France Press.

Another operation planned by the network was to use "deadly gas against the US embassy and the prime minister's office in Amman," he added.

A car belonging to the al Qaeda plotters, containing a chemical bomb and poisonous gas, was intercepted just 75 miles from the Syrian border.

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