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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04AMMAN6369 2004-07-27 16:25:00 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Amman
Cable title:  

JORDANIAN ALLEGATIONS OF SYRIAN-AL-QA'IDA/ZARQAWI

Tags:   PGOV PTER SY JO 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					  S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 AMMAN 006369 

SIPDIS

NOFORN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/22/2014
TAGS: PGOV PTER SY JO
SUBJECT: JORDANIAN ALLEGATIONS OF SYRIAN-AL-QA'IDA/ZARQAWI
TIES ROOTED IN DEEP MISTRUST OF SYRIAN INTENTIONS

REF: A. AMMAN 5876


B. AMMAN 6171

C. AMMAN 3351

D. AMMAN 3288

E. AMMAN 6215

Classified By: CDA David Hale for reasons 1.5 (b)(d)

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SUMMARY
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1. (S/NF) Jordanian officials over the last several weeks
have expressed their concern about alleged Syrian support for
al-Qa'ida and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi operatives, pointing to
ongoing smuggling activity through Jordan's northern frontier
as a major worry. There is no indication available to us
that the Syrian government is complicit in operational
planning, but officials claim that Zarqawi affiliates receive
logistical support from Syrian intelligence and are allowed
to operate relatively unfettered in Syria. The April bomb
plot targeting the U.S. Embassy and Jordanian government
buildings in Amman piqued the GOJ's concern about Syrian
support for Zarqawi's network, since suspects and materiel
were intercepted en route from Syria. The bomb plot may have
been the catalyst for these allegations, but Jordan's
concerns also are rooted in deep and longstanding mistrust
about Syrian intentions. Jordan's $400 million request for
border security assistance almost certainly is a factor
encouraging officials to emphasize this particular threat,
but Jordan's concerns about ongoing al-Qa'ida/Zarqawi
activity -- and its proven determination to target Jordan --
are real, and growing. End Summary.



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JORDANIANS ALLEGE SYRIAN-AL-QA'IDA/ZARQAWI LINK


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2. (S/NF) Over the past several weeks, senior Jordanian
officials, including King Abdullah, General Intelligence
Directorate Chief Sa'ad Kheir, Foreign Minister Muasher, Air
Force Commander Prince Feisal, and JAF Chief of Staff General
Nsairat, have raised in various meetings with U.S. officials
their concerns about alleged official Syrian support to
al-Qa'ida/Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (refs a and b). The massive
bomb plot against the U.S. Embassy and GOJ targets disrupted
in April in which Jordanian and Syrian Zarqawi operatives
attempted to smuggle weapons and explosives through the
Jordanian-Syrian border (refs c and d), appears to be the
genesis of the GOJ's heightened concern. Although Jordanian
officials took pains to publicly downplay any official Syrian
connection to the plot at the time, they privately express
the conviction that such activity could not occur without at
least tacit approval and logistical support from Syrian
officials.



3. (S/NF) Requests for further information from GOJ
officials have yielded (uncorroborated) allegations that
Syrian intelligence has allowed Zarqawi operatives safehaven
in Syria, facilitated their transit between Lebanon, Syria
and Iraq, and provided other logistical support. For
example, the Jordanians point to an alleged meeting in
Damascus between Syrian intelligence and one of the
individuals arrested in the April bomb plot in Amman.
According to the Jordanians, the Syrians called in the
operative two weeks before he was arrested in Jordan, asked
him some perfunctory questions (substance of which is
unknown) and released him. It is not clear what prompted the
Syrians to call him in, or if they realized who he was or
what he was planning.



4. (S/NF) Jordanian officials also point to the lax Syrian
enforcement at the two main border crossings into Jordan,
noting that several suspects and their weaponry in the April
bomb plot entered Jordan were caught on the Jordanian side of
the Jaber crossing. Militants have long favored the
Syrian-Jordanian border in their efforts to smuggle weapons
and explosives destined for the West Bank. The Jordanians
believe it is highly unlikely that Syrian officials at the
border have no idea what is going on. They believe that the
Syrians in some cases are looking the other way, and that
some "bad apples" are actually complicit in the activity,
receiving bribes from the infiltrators. While it is not
clear to the Jordanians how far up the chain of command this
goes, they are not willing to absolve Damascus of
responsibility. A Jordanian military official believes that
if the Syrians were genuinely committed to policing the
border, effectiveness could be enhanced. He noted that fear
of Israeli military retaliation ensures that the Syrians
prevent such traffic through the Golan -- evidence the
Syrians can stop infiltrators when motivated to do so.



--------------------------



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JORDANIAN CONCERN ROOTED IN INTENSE DISTRUST OF SYRIA


--------------------------



--------------------------





5. (S/NF) Longstanding bad blood between Jordan and Syria
and continued frosty relations on multiple fronts have
intensified Jordanian suspicions about Syria's intentions.
Jordanian decision makers have a lively awareness of the
long, troubled history of bilateral relations and persistent
Syrian efforts to destabilize Jordan starting in the 1950s.
In particular, Jordanians will not soon forget Syria's role
in the 1970 "civil war" and support for Palestinian
rejectionist groups' bombings in Jordan in the 1980s with
Damascus' approval. Jordan's public announcement that the
suspected Zarqawi plotters in April had entered from Syria
angered Damascus, prompting the Syrians to retaliate on the
trade front. Jordanian companies wishing to export products
to Syria must now certify that their products contain no
Israeli content. (Ironically, trade figures show the
political wrangling has not affected booming Syrian-Jordanian
trade which will be reported septel.)



6. (S/NF) Personal enmity between some Jordanian and Syrian
officials seems to also be playing into this dynamic. For
example, GID Chief Saad Kheir and his Syrian counterpart
Hassan Khalil barely speak. The King's advisors quote him as
describing Bashar as "useless," unable or unwilling to
improve the situation, despite assurances to the contrary.
The Jordanians complain that their requests for information
on suspected terrorists often are ignored or only partially
answered, compiling the frustration and suspicion over Syrian
activities.



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COMMENT


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7. (S/NF) The GOJ's outstanding $400 million request for
border security assistance undoubtedly plays into its desire
to raise border security issues at every opportunity, but the
Syria-al-Qa'ida/Zarqawi issue remains a major source of
anxiety for Jordanian officials. Lax Syrian border
enforcement (at best) and Syrian safehaven and logistical
support for Zarqawi operatives -- confirmed or not -- is a
valid worry. As the April bomb plot, and more recently an
infiltration attempt into Israel (ref e), demonstrates,
Jordan's border security concerns are substantial. GOJ
officials believe that al-Qa'ida and Zarqawi are undeterred
by multiple disruptions of their activities in Jordan, and it
is just a matter of time before they try again. Jordanian
officials express some mystification about Syrian objectives
in permitting these al-Qa'ida/Zarqawi activities but have no
doubt that if Syria chose to put an end to them, it could.

Visit Embassy Amman's classified website at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/amman/
or access the site through the State Department's SIPRNET
home page.
HALE