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4/22/04 - JOINT EFFORTS THWART Al-QAIDA - 2004-04-24

Jordanian authorities have reportedly foiled a plot by al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists to use a chemical weapon against the U.S. embassy and several Jordanian government offices, including the office of the prime minister. Police say they arrested several members of a terrorist cell reportedly funded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an associate of al-Qaida believed to be responsible for numerous attacks in Iraq. "We found primary materials to make a chemical bomb," a Jordanian official said.

Al-Qaida suffered another setback in Afghanistan, thanks to a joint operation by Afghan police and members of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, or I-SAF. I-SAF spokesman Chris Henderson tells what happened:

"They arrested eight people with suspected links to [the] Hezb-I-Islami [terrorist group of] Gulbuddin [Hekmatyar] and al-Qaida. A thorough search of the compound also revealed documents linked to these terrorist groups [and] a small amount of weapons. There were no injuries to either security agencies participating in the raid or to the people, the occupants of the compound."

Among those arrested was a senior Hezb-I-Islami Gulbuddin commander. Founded by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in 1977, Hezb-I-Islami has long-established ties to Osama bin Laden. In recent weeks, Afghan security forces have arrested several other Hezb-I-Islami Gulbuddin suspects. International Security Assistance Force officials say that Hebz-I-Islami Gulbuddin, al-Qaida, and the ousted Taleban are attempting to destabilize Afghanistan and prevent democratic elections scheduled for September. I-SAF spokesman Chris Henderson said, "removing senior commanders of these three organizations is a key element in broadening the security blanket so the elections can take place."

President George W. Bush says that terrorists act on an "ideology of murder":

"None of these acts is the work of a religion; all are the work of a fanatical, political ideology. The servants of this ideology seek tyranny in the Middle East and beyond. They seek to oppress and persecute women. They seek the death of Jews and Christians, and every Muslim who desires peace over theocratic terror."

Mr. Bush said that since September 11th, 2001, terrorists "have seen that we will no longer live in denial or seek to appease them."