Al Qaeda Denies Knowing Man Arrested in Jordan

Jordan said this week that it struck Al Qaeda in Iraq a blow by arresting one of its top militants, but a statement Wednesday claiming to be from the terrorist network said that the group did not know the man.

Questions also remain as to when and where the Iraqi man, who identified himself as Ziad Khalaf Raja al-Karbouly, was arrested.

A statement purportedly from Al Qaeda in Iraq Wednesday said al-Karbouly was not a member.

CountryWatch: Jordan

"We don't even know the person shown on Jordanian television," the statement said on a Web site that has posted messages from al-Qaida, al-Qaida in Iraq and other militant groups in the past.

"All that has been shown was merely a play written by the Black House gang and performed on TV by their agents in the region," it said, referring to the White House and its alliance with Jordan.

The authenticity of the statement could not be independently verified.

In a confession aired on prime-time television in Jordan Tuesday, al-Karbouly said he was a member of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and that its leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, knew details of his operations to kill and kidnap Arabs traveling between Iraq and Jordan.

Initially, Jordanian officials said an elite anti-terrorism force captured al-Karbouly in Iraq. They later changed their story, saying he was lured to the kingdom to face arrest.

A Western security official based in Amman, speaking on condition of anonymity because he didn't have authorization to address the media, said the suspect did not appear to be a major figure in the insurgent group.

Jordanian officials hailed al-Karbouly's arrest as a major "foreign operation."

"It was in line with the state's decision to move from the defensive ranks to launch an offensive against Al Qaeda in Iraq," former Information Minister Saleh Qallab said.

Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for Nov. 9 suicide blasts in Amman hotels that killed 63 people, and several other plots in Jordan, including the 2002 slaying of a U.S. official in Amman and a failed attempt in 2004 to use chemical weapons against Jordan's intelligence department.

Al-Zarqawi 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 him to death in absentia three times for terror plots against his native Jordan.

On television Al-Karbouly, also known as Abu Huthayfa, said he killed a Jordanian truck driver and kidnapped two Moroccan embassy employees, four Iraqi national guards and an Iraqi finance ministry official.

He said the Moroccans were killed. But Iraq's interior ministry said there was no proof to his claim.

The Moroccan state news agency reported that Moroccan and Jordanian officials are investigating al-Karbouly's claims about the Moroccans.