Pointers to dual Al Qaeda missile attack on Aqaba and US-led MFO
US, Israeli, Egyptian and Jordanian counter-terror experts are following leads indicating that the Grad missiles fired at Aqaba early Monday, August 2, killing a Jordanian security officer and injuring four people, was part of a coordinated attack against Jordan, a US ally, and the US-led Multinational Force & Observers Organization in Sinai -MFO. This is reported by debkafile's counter-terror sources.
The explosions, which also caused extensive damage to the Intercontinental Hotel in Aqaba, were heard clearly in the Eilat, the Jordanian resort's Red Sea twin at 7.45 a.m. Monday. However, Eilat is ruled out for now as an objective.
At the same time, too, the MFO's command base at Al Gura, northeast of the northern Sinai port of El Arish on the Mediterranean was also attacked. Al Qaeda was apparently demonstrating its ability to hit two US or US-allied Middle East targets at the same time.
While the Jordanian government published the Aqaba attack in detail, Egypt and the MFO command's Rome headquarters have imposed a news blackout on the Sinai end of the attack. However, it is confirmed by Israeli military sources and local witnesses. MFO personnel are also taking part in the wide-ranging search in which Egypt, Jordan and Israeli are working together for the location from which the attack originated.
The search is focusing on discovering whether the missiles for both attacks all came from Sinai, which would indicate two launch-teams – one firing from the north and one west of central Sinai, where of Al Qaeda has established hideouts – or whether Aqaba was hit by a separate missile team firing from inside Jordan.
This was be the first time that Al Qaeda branches in Jordan and Sinai have been known to synchronize their operations – but not the first time the jihadists have targeted the thriving Jordanian resort of Aqaba, a tourist favorite alongside next-door Eilat.
It was last hit on June 8, 2007, when al Qaeda's missiles smashed into a Jordanian military target, killing a soldier, and just missed the USS Ashland docked which was docked at the time in Aqaba. One of those missiles reached nearby Eilat airport.