Jordan's king sets new intelligence chief

Jordan's king appointed a new intelligence chief after his predecessor resigned Tuesday more than a month since three suicide bombers killed 60 people in this country's deadliest ever terror attack. Maj. Gen. Mohammed al-Thahabi, known as one of the country's top anti-terrorism officers, replaced Gen. Samih Asfoura as head of Jordan's intelligence services after King Abdullah II accepted the outgoing chief's resignation on Tuesday, the official Petra news agency reported.

No reason was given for Asfoura's resignation, but Jordan's intelligence services came under heavy criticism following the Nov. 9 triple suicide attacks on three hotels in the Jordanian capital, Amman. Asfoura was also believed to have been suffering from heart problems, which is also believed to have been a factor in his decision to step down.

Petra said the royal decree issued by Abdullah ordered that al-Thahabi's appointment take immediate effect. The king holds the title of supreme commander of the Jordanian Armed Forces. No other details were made available. It was not immediately clear if Asfoura would be appointed to another position within the government, but there has been speculation that he may become the next national security adviser to Abdullah.

Government insiders, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were unauthorized to release details to the media, have been saying that the change had been expected before the bombings, but the bombings had sped up the process. Those attacks were also followed by a major reshuffle of this kingdom's government and the appointment of Jordan's former ambassador to Israel, Marouf al-Bakhit, as the new prime minister. Further changes are expected within the upper echelons of the police forces and the military in a bid to reinvigorate the security services and replace aging leaders. Al-Thahabi has a reputation of being a tough general who has served in Jordan's General Intelligence Department for more than 20 years, reports the AP. N.U.

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