Jordan announces arrest of an al-Qaida in Iraq leader

Jordan announced Monday the arrest of an unidentified leader of the al-Qaida in Iraq militant group, saying the man was responsible for kidnapping and killing Jordanians and Arabs and robbing commercial trucks driving between the kingdom and Iraq.

"Jordan's General Intelligence Department revealed today that it has arrested an official with al-Qaida in Iraq who has committed several crimes that included robbing trucks, kidnapping and killing Jordanian citizens and other Arabs," the announcement said on Jordanian state television.

It did not say when or where the suspected militant was taken into custody or provide other details.

Jordan's intelligence department is known to be one of the most efficient security agencies in the Arab world. It coordinates closely and shares intelligence data with the United States, including U.S. forces in Iraq.

Iraqi Interior ministry Lt. Col. Ali Rashid said that his ministry had no information about the arrest, adding that the ministry was not involved in the operation.

Jordanian security officials declined comment, and the announcement on Jordanian television said more information, including specifics on al-Qaida plots, would be broadcast in a special program Tuesday night.

The top leader of Al-Qaida in Iraq, Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has claimed responsibility for several terror attacks against his native country, including triple hotel blasts last Nov. 9 in the Jordanian capital which killed 63 people, including three Iraqi suicide bombers.

Al-Zarqawi's group has claimed responsibility for scores of kidnappings, beheadings and suicide bombings in neighboring Iraq.

The group opposes Jordan's moderate stance on Islam, its longtime alliance with the United States and the peace treaty it signed with Israel in 1994.

A Jordanian military court has sentenced Al-Zarqawi to death three times for terror attacks, including the October 2002 slaying of U.S. official Laurence Foley, who was gunned down outside his Amman home, reports AP.