AMMAN Ñ Jordan, alarmed by a harsh response from the Islamic
opposition, has rescinded a decision to freeze assets of Hamas.
Jordanian officials said the measure announced on Monday was never
approved by the government in Amman. As a result, they said, the freeze has
been lifted and would be reviewed over the next few weeks.
Jordanian Information Minister Nabil Sharif said a decision to freeze
the accounts in the kingdom of Hamas leaders based in Beirut, Damascus and
Gaza City was not political. Instead, Sharif was quoted by the official
Petra news agency as saying that the decision was "for banking purposes
only,", Middle East Newsline reported
Later on Tuesday, the Jordanian Central Bank said it had rescinded
its decision to freeze Hamas assets in the kingdom. The bank, in a statement
reported by Petra, did not elaborate.
The Jordanian reversal came after a majority of parliament as well as
Islamic groups protested the decision to freeze Hamas assets. In a
statement, Hamas said Jordan has decided to freeze the bank accounts of its
leading members as well as five charities linked to the Islamic insurgency
"Jordan has become the first Arab and Muslim country to take such a step
that has no justification other than implementing American dictates," the
Hamas statement said.
In another development, Jordan has uncovered an Al Qaida-related
insurgency cell that planned attacks throughout the kingdom. Jordanian
officials said the cell was composed of 15 members included Al Qaida and its
satellite group, Ansar Al Islam. The officials said most of the members
infiltrated from Iran, where they were organized by a leading Al Qaida
The Islamic cell targeted Israeli, Jordanian and U.S. interests, the
officials said. They said 13 members of the cell were Jordanian nationals
and the remaining two were Iraqis.
Jordanian officials were tipped off by the cell when U.S. military
forces captured an insurgent in March. The cell was believed to have been
organized by Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi and was headed by Mulla Kreker, head of
Ansar. Al Zarqawi was charged with ordering the assassination of U.S.
diplomat Lawrence Foley in October 2002. Al Zarqawi was said to have fled
from Iraq to neighboring Iran in March.
The officials said only one member of the cell was captured in northern
Iraq. They identified the insurgent as Mahmoud Rabati, 34, who was believed
to have later identified the other members of the cell. Rabati was
transferred to Jordan at the end of April.