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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > One day after Gaza surrender - US ships in Jordan attacked by missiles - one lands in Israel

One day after Gaza surrender - US ships in Jordan attacked by missiles - one lands in Israel

August 19, 2005

Rocket Misses US warship in Jordan


CBS) AMMAN, Jordan Authorities say two rockets were fired early Friday from Jordan, one apparently aimed at U.S. Navy ships docked in a Jordanian port and another at an Israeli airport only a few miles away.

One of the mortars was fired in the vicinity of two U.S. Navy ships docked in the port of Aqaba, Jordan, the U.S. military said, but it missed and hit a nearby warehouse. There were no American injuries.

The U.S. Central Command said the ships were the USS Ashland and the USS Kearsarge. The Ashland is an amphibious warfare ship designed to transport Marines and their combat gear along with assault landing craft and helicopters.

The Kearsarge is an assault command ship that can carry 1200 troops.

"At approximately 8:44 a.m. local time a suspected mortar rocket flew over the (amphibious) USS Ashland over the bow and impacted a warehouse on the pier in the vicinity of the Ashland and the USS Kearsarge which were in port," said Lt. Cdr. Charlie Brown of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, in a statement.

"The warehouse sustained an approximate 8 foot hole in the roof of the building and no sailors or Marines were injured in the attack," said Brown, adding that the missile was fired from land.

The Red Sea port serves as a logistics hub for Iraq, used by the military for moving supplies.

The attacks come amid a time of tension in the region marked by Israel's withdrawal from Gaza.

There have been no claims of responsibility for the attacks, but Islamic extremists have long criticized Jordan's U.S.-allied moderate government for its peace treaty with Israel and close ties with the West.

Jordan, which is home to 1.8 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants, signed a peace deal with Israel in 1994.

The missiles are believed to have been Katyusha rockets, fired from a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Aqaba.

Israeli police and witnesses said a rocket fired from Jordan slammed into a taxi traveling near the airport in Israel's nearby Red Sea resort of Eilat, but did not explode.

"I heard a noise, the car shook, and I kept driving for two more meters (yards)," said Israeli cab driver Meir Farhan, 40, who suffered minor wounds. "I didn't realize what it was, (but) when I went out of the car I saw a hole in the ground on the asphalt."

The rocket left a small crater in the road, about 15 yards from the Eilat airport fence, according to Avi Azulin, a local police commander.

Aqaba is an attractive target for terrorists in that it has been the site of past Mideast peace negotiations, is a resort city, and is just across the water from the Israeli city of Eilat.

Aqaba and Eilat are about nine miles apart and located on either side the Jordan-Israeli border at the northern end of the Red Sea close to Sinai Peninsula.

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz says the attacks were "intended to hit the Israeli side and the Jordanian side as well."

"We still don't know who is behind this act but I'm sure the Jordanians will do all they can to prevent such attacks in the future as in the past," Mofaz said, adding Israeli authorities are in contact with Jordanians over the incidents.



Katyusha Hits Eilat; US Base in Jordan Attacked Friday, August 19, 2005 / 14 Av 5765

A Katyusha rocket struck Eilat, on Israel's southernmost tip, Friday morning. Simultaneously, explosions ripped through a US military base in Aqaba, Jordan, across the border from Eilat.

The rocket attack on Eilat, situated on the Red Sea, occurred at 9:30am, with the impact zone located dangerously close to a runway in Eilat airport, near a number of resort hotels. There were no injuries in the attack, although property damage was reported. IDF officials confirm the attack was a Katyusha rocket, but indications are that there was only a partial detonation.

In the Jordanian city of Aqaba, according to the Al-Jazeera news agency, there were a number of injuries and an unspecified number of people were transported to hospital as a result of an explosion in a closed US military area. Jordanian government officials confirmed reports of the explosion.

Unconfirmed reports indicate that three projectiles may have been fired from Jordan, with two mortars landing in the Hashemite kingdom and one Katyusha landing in Eilat.

No organization has as yet claimed responsibility for the two attacks. Katyusha rockets have been an important part of the Hizbullah terrorist organization arsenal in Lebanon.

Jordanians detain suspects in hunt for rocket attackers

Launcher found, official says

By Shafika Mattar, Associated Press | August 21, 2005

AQABA, Jordan -- Police detained several suspects yesterday as the hunt widened for the attackers who fired and supplied the rockets that narrowly missed a US Navy ship anchored in the bay of this Red Sea port best known for beach vacations and Mideast summits.

Those arrested included Iraqis, Syrians, Egyptians, and Jordanians, according to a Jordanian security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly. He would not give the number of detainees.

Interior Minister Awni Yirfas said in an interview that security forces had found the launcher used to fire the three Katyusha rockets.

Police found four more rockets when they seized the launcher in a warehouse in an industrial zone on a hillside overlooking Aqaba, state TV reported yesterday. The four rockets were defused, the report said.

The newscast did not say whether anyone had been detained for Friday's attack.

The Gulf of Aqaba, a narrow northern extension of the Red Sea, is bordered by Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia with the frontiers of the four countries touching or within view of one another.

A further outbreak of terrorism in the region would be particularly worrisome, not only because of US Navy targets in the area but also because Muslim extremists want to topple governments in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan -- all longtime American allies. Egypt and Jordan have peace treaties with Israel.

The Abdullah Azzam Brigades -- an Al Qaeda-linked group that claimed responsibility for the bombings which killed at least 64 people at Sharm el-Sheik in July and 34 people at two other Egyptian resorts last October -- said in an Internet statement that its fighters had fired the Katyushas, bolstering concerns that Islamic extremists had opened a new front in the region.

Authorities said the warehouse used to launch the notoriously inaccurate rockets had been rented days beforehand by four men carrying Iraqi and Egyptian identity papers.

The security official who disclosed yesterday's arrests said an Iraqi detainee was suspected of taking part in the attack, but he cautioned against assuming the others arrested were equally involved.

A Jordanian soldier was killed and another wounded when one Katyusha flew across the bow of the USS Ashland and hit a warehouse used by the Americans to store goods headed to Iraq.

Two more rockets were fired toward Israel. One fell short and hit the wall of a Jordanian military hospital. The other landed close to Israel's Eilat airport, lightly wounding a taxi driver.

Police said yesterday that they were searching for as many as six people -- including one Syrian, Egyptians, and Iraqis -- who escaped in a vehicle with Kuwaiti license plates.

Security was tightened nationwide, including in the capital Amman, which has been the target of several failed Al Qaeda terrorist plots -- including one using chemicals in April 2004. Police at road blocks were stopping cars and checking identity papers. Pictures of suspects were distributed to border checkpoints.

Although the rockets missed the USS Ashland, the Navy decided to sail both of its ships out of Aqaba Bay as a precaution. They had arrived earlier in the week for a military exercise with the Jordanian Navy.

Jordan is trying to determine the source of the rockets, and how they were smuggled into the country, which has tight border security.

Lebanon's Shi'ite Muslim militant group Hezbollah, which is backed by Syria and Iran, has thousands of Katyushas.

Doug Richardson, of the London-based Jane's Defense Review, said the rockets have been widely copied from their original Russian design and modified by many countries, including those in eastern Europe and China.

Iran and Hezbollah would be "potential sources" of the weapon, he said in a telephone interview.

In Lebanon, a Hezbollah official declined to comment when asked about the group's involvement.

In Syria, Elias Murad, chief editor of Al-Ba'ath newspaper, mouthpiece of the country's ruling Ba'ath Party, said attempts to involve Damascus were "ridiculous because Katyusha rockets exist in two-thirds of the world."

In Iraq, insurgents have used Katyusha rockets against US military installations.

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