AMMAN -- Jordan has recorded a significant improvement in its special
Officials said Jordan's new special operations command has succeeded in
developing a force of several hundred commandos who could quickly respond to
an insurgency attack or threat, determine the situation and operate. They
said the special operations unit has been trained to respond to a range of
"The Jordanians are good, very good and they're really fighting this
war," U.S. Brig. Gen. Gary Harrell, who commands Special Operations Command
The Jordanian unit demonstrated its skills in the capture of an Al
Qaida-inspired cell in Amman in April, Middle East Newsline reported. Jordan's special operations forces
raided three insurgency strongholds in Amman over a 12-hour period to
prevent what officials asserted was a plot to stage a chemical weapons
attack on the nation's domestic intelligence agency.
Officials agreed to provide details on the April 20 mission as part of
an attempt to market Jordan's special operations forces. Jordan has offered
to supply Arab and other countries with expertise as well as equipment to
organize special forces for the military and police. So far, Jordan has been
negotiating with such Gulf Cooperation Council states as Bahrain, Kuwait and
The operation on April 20 was led by Jordan's special forces. The forces
included the counter-insurgency unit, Battalion 71. Officials said four
Al Qaida-related insurgents were killed and their leaders captured.
Jordan's special operations unit was summoned after three trucks packed
with 20 tons of explosives and chemicals were seized in Irbid, about 90
kilometers from Syria. Jordanian intelligence learned from the truck drivers
of the CW plot and of a leading insurgency operative. Soon, intelligence
determined that the operative was in Amman planning another attack with help
of agents throughout the city.
Officials said special operations troops were ordered to focus on rapid
response to prevent one group of insurgents from reporting the military raid
to another group. They said the insurgents were believed to be in constant
cellular phone contact.
"We get information from here for the next target," Brig. Gen. Ahmed Al
Faqeeh, Special Operations Forces commander, said. "We react, and then we
get more information and react very quickly. Time was very critical."
Jordanian intelligence traced one insurgency cell to an apartment next
to an Amman school and the commandos determined that he was wielding a
submachine gun and explosives. Jordanian forces arrived at about 2 a.m. and
a police officer demanded that a leading operative, identified as Azmi
Jayousi, open the door.
Instead, Jayousi opened fire and a six-man commando team burst into the
apartment and captured the occupants as well as seized explosives and
Officials said Jayousi and his wife confessed to having received
training from Al Qaida in Afghanistan. He was quoted as saying that he
obtained $170,000 from Syrians close to Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi, regarded as
the most lethal insurgent in Iraq, for the planned CW strike.
Despite the raid, the Jordanian special operations force could not find
the second cell. Officials said Jayousi acknowledged that members of the
cell were required to phone each other every six hours. Jayousi, guarded by
special agents, agreed to arrange a meeting with the second cell at 9 a.m.
the following morning. The second cell was said to have contained the
suicide bomber for the attack on the intelligence headquarters.
Another leading insurgent who arrived to the meeting was captured in the
North Hashemi neighborhood of Amman. The insurgent, identified as Ahmad
Samir, agreed to identify the cell's safe house. Special operations forces
were ordered to capture the site within 15 minutes, when the next call was
take place between insurgency operatives.
Officials said a Jordanian team evacuated the house and cleared the area
of civilians. At the same time, a negotiating team urged the insurgents
inside the building to surrender. The team gave the insurgents five minutes
Three minutes later, insurgents began to fire toward security forces
from the basement. Jordanian forces hurled tear gas cannisters into the
basement. The insurgents sought frantically to contact Samir, but discovered
that he had already been captured.
In the end, three insurgents were killed in the battle. Officials said
all three were being prepared to blow themselves up in the attack on the
"They need to do something against our country just to give the
impression we are not secure," Al Faqeeh, the special operations forces
commander, said. "I would assume that if they did not reach the targets,
they would explode the vehicles anywhere just to make a demonstration. It
was important for them. We are always proud that we are a secure country and
control the security very well, so they want to kill and show that we are
not as we say."