Some U.S. forces in Jordan
for anti-terror monitoring

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Despite its denials, Jordan continues to host U.S. military forces in the Hashemite kingdom.

U.S. government sources said the United States has used Jordan as a listening post for monitoring cellular and other communications by Al Qaida suspects as well as loyalists of deposed President Saddam Hussein. The U.S. effort has led to the arrest and exposure of at least one Al Qaida cell, they said.

The sources said more than 100 U.S. military personnel remain in Jordan from military exercises conducted in 2002. They said the U.S. forces are located in several Jordanian military bases in both the northeastern and southern parts of the kingdom.

[On Tuesday, the Jordanian Arab Al Yom daily reported that the United States has been negotiating for the surrender of the No. 2 member of the Iraqi regime, Izzet Ibrahim Douri, Middle East Newsline reported. The newspaper said Douri has lost contact with Saddam and has been wandering in northwest Iraq with his sons and bodyguards.]

"The U.S. presence is much smaller than it was during the war," a government source said. "But there are still military personnel and they are doing a valuable job in the war against terrorism."

Neither Jordan nor the United States has formally discussed the American military presence in the Hashemite kingdom. Amman has several times denied that it has hosted U.S. troops.

The Bush administration has approved tens of millions of dollars to maintain Jordanian military camps that contain American soldiers. They said the Defense Department has awarded a $39.3 million contract for the maintenance and improvement of facilities at a Jordanian base camp.

The award went to Kellogg Brown and Root, which services the U.S. military presence throughout the Middle East. The Jordanian camp was not identified.

Jordan has also been included in an administration request for a supplemental $87 billion for the war in Iraq. The request seeks to reward Jordan, termed a "key cooperation nation," for what the bill termed logistical and military support such as transportation, supplies and communications.

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