AMMAN, Jordan – Jordan identified the arrested Al Qaeda in Iraq official on Tuesday as a top lieutenant of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was lured to the kingdom to be arrested there.
The Iraqi, Ziad Khalaf Raja al-Karbouly, was detained by Jordanian intelligence agents and special anti-terrorism forces, according to a government announcement on Jordanian TV.
It said he worked as a customs clearing agent on Iraq's border with Jordan, where he handled stolen goods under direct orders from Al Qaeda in Iraq leaders.
The prime-time television program said the man was responsible for several killings and kidnappings of Jordanians and Arabs in neighboring Iraq.
It also broadcast his confession, in which he admitted to being a member of Al Qaeda in Iraq and gave details of some attempts to attack Jordanian citizens, including truck drivers on routes between Iraq and the kingdom.
Wearing a blue shirt and sporting a beard, the slender middle-aged man looked composed as he described his contacts with close aides of al-Zarqawi.
He said he was specifically instructed to attack Jordanians because "they deal with the Americans and bring them goods" — an apparent reference to some Jordan-based firms shuttling foods and other basic supplies into Iraq.
The announcement did not say when the man was arrested and provided little detail on the operation that led to his detention. It showed pictures of masked Jordanian anti-terrorism officials pulling the blindfolded suspect out of a van, apparently upon his arrest in Jordan.
The Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi has claimed responsibility for several terror attacks against his native country, including triple hotel blasts in Amman last Nov. 9 that 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.