Al Qaeda claims responsibility for rocket attack
Jordan: 'Prime suspect' arrested in U.S. warship attack
(CNN) -- Al Qaeda in Iraq has issued a claim of responsibility for a rocket attack in Jordan just hours after Jordanian authorities said they had arrested the "prime suspect" in the attack on two U.S. warships that left a Jordanian soldier dead.
The claim of responsibility, dated Tuesday and posted on web sites and distributed by e-mail, said al Qaeda in Iraq -- believed headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- waited to issue its claim until its fighter had returned safely to Iraq.
In its statement about the arrest, the Jordanian government said three others suspects had escaped into Iraq.
"Your brothers fired rockets toward their targets, the American crusader vessels that were at the Aqaba port as well as Eilat (Israel).
"With God's grace, the brothers returned safely to Iraq."
The claim said al Qaeda in Iraq could continue to "the centers of the infidels."
The claim by al Qaeda in Iraq is the second claim of responsibility.
On Friday, a group with a checkered record of claims -- "The brigades of the Martyr Abdallah Azzam Qaeda in the Levant & Egypt" -- also claimed it was behind the attacks. (Full story)
The Jordanian government statement announcing the arrest was read on state television Monday.
It identified the suspect as Mohammad Abdullah Hassan al-Sihly, a Syrian citizen who lived in Amman. Jordan's government said he is connected with a known terrorist group based in Iraq.
His two sons and a fourth man, an Iraqi national identified as their leader, also took part in the attack, authorities said.
Friday's attacks targeted but missed two American vessels moored in the Jordanian port of Aqaba for training exercises in the region.
The government statement said al-Sihly entered Jordan in December 2004 after being wounded in Iraq, where U.S. troops have battled a persistent insurgency for more than two years since the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
His sons, Abdullah and Abdulrahman, and Mohammed Hameed Hassan al-Iraqi -- also known as Abu Mukhtar -- entered Jordan in early August, smuggling seven Katyusha rockets into the country.
Three were fired in Friday's attack on the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge and the amphibious transport USS Ashland, authorities said.
The group rented a warehouse in an industrial district of Aqaba, Jordan's Red Sea port, and set a timer to launch the rockets Friday morning. Al-Sihly's sons and Abu Mukhtar returned to Iraq after setting the rockets to fire, Jordan's government said.
The group was in "direct contact" with leaders in Iraq, who were kept informed on their progress, the government said.
There were no injuries among the nearly 4,000 sailors or Marines aboard the U.S. vessels. But one rocket struck a Jordanian military warehouse, killing a Jordanian soldier and severely wounding another. Another rocket landed in the neighboring Israeli port of Eilat, but injured no one.
Earlier Monday, Jordanian authorities said they found a Katyusha rocket launcher they believe was used in the attacks, along with four unlaunched rockets they defused.