Jordan Arrests al-Qaeda Member in Sting Operation

Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 3 Issue: 21

Jordanian authorities announced on May 23 the arrest of a suspected member of al-Qaeda in Iraq in a sting operation launched by its General Intelligence Department (GID) and the 71st counter-terrorism battalion of Jordan’s special forces (al-Ghad, May 24).

Ziyad Khalaf Karbouli (also known as Abu Houthiyfah) confessed on Jordanian television on May 23 to shooting and killing a Jordanian citizen in September 2005 and kidnapping two Moroccan diplomats on November 20, 2005; the latter kidnappings shocked the Moroccan populace who took to the streets in protest at the time.

According to Jordanian authorities, Karbouli, who is 23 years old, was the al-Qaeda leader in the Iraqi town of Rutba bordering Jordan. He was in charge of collecting “booty” for al-Qaeda by looting trucks heading from Jordan to Iraq. Karbouli exploited his job as a customs official at the Jordanian-Iraqi border to perpetrate these crimes. In the television confession, Karbouli described how six months ago he killed Khaled Dasouqi, a Jordanian driver who worked on the Baghdad-Amman highway. Dasouqi was married with five children. Karbouli said “I killed Dasouqi on the direct orders of al-Qaeda’s Amir of Ramadi province and coordinated the killing with Yasser Harbi and Youssef Ramlawi,” both of whom are senior members of al-Qaeda in Iraq. After shooting Dasouqi to death, Karbouli called the Dasouqi family using Dasouqi’s mobile phone; it has not been made public what the conversations entailed.

Karbouli also confessed to kidnapping an assistant of Iraq’s finance minister and two Moroccan diplomats Abderrahim Boualem and Abdelkrim al-Mouhafidi. The Moroccan diplomats were sentenced to death by al-Qaeda on November 20, 2005, and are now presumed dead (Addastour, May 24). Additionally, Karbouli claimed he killed four Iraqi national guardsmen.

Karbouli belongs to the Karabila tribe, which is a powerful Sunni tribe in al-Anbar province (al-Bayan February 11). Karabila tribe consists of about 175,000 people that live along the Iraqi border with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The tribesmen mainly work with livestock and have raised camels and goats for many decades. In February, sheikh of the Karabila tribe Osama Jedaan—who has since been assassinated—announced that the tribe made a deal with the Iraqi military to control the borders in their area (al-Bayan, February 11). Karbouli does not represent the tribe nor is the tribe responsible for his al-Qaeda affiliation.

An unspecified Jordanian security source said that on the direct orders of King Abdullah II, the Forssan al-Haq (Knights of Truth) group of the external operations unit in the GID lured and arrested Karbouli outside Iraq (al-Ghad, May 24). It is worth mentioning that the arrest of Karbouli, even though he is not in the top echelons of al-Qaeda, will infuriate al-Zarqawi and exacerbate the already tense situation between Jordan and al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda was caught off guard on this arrest because it could be the first large-scale offensive operation against al-Qaeda by its arch enemy the GID. Most other operations were defensive. Therefore, al-Qaeda’s first reaction was to deny that Karabouli was a member of al-Qaeda (