Nov 09, 2005

jordan blasts

You look at all the evidence coming in, Peter. What goes through your mind? Who did this?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I think there are two leading candidates. One is, of course, Zarqawi's group which goes by the name of Tawhid when it was based -- when he was based in Jordan. "Tawhid" is the word for the unity of god.

And this group was very focused on overthrowing the Hashemite monarchy in Jordan, attacking Israeli and Jewish targets. They've been implicated in the -- in the assassination of the American diplomat, Lawrence Foley, who was assassinated in 2002 in Amman, Jordan.

Another possible suspect is the Abdallah Azzam Brigade. Abdallah Azzam is a Jordanian cleric who this group has sort of adopted as their -- as their inspiration.

He was sort of a mentor to bin Laden. I talked to his son who lives actually in Amman, Jordan, and he said that his father would reject what this group is doing out of hand. But they've claimed that they were behind the attacks on the Hilton hotel in Egypt, you may remember, back in 2004. They also took responsibility for the attack in August of 2005 on the USS Ashland in Aqaba, Jordan, which killed one Jordanian soldier.

So these are the two leading suspects. If not those groups, certainly sort of an al Qaeda-influenced Sunni ideological group BLITZER: So you wouldn't necessary say Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leaders of al Qaeda. You would say a group influenced, in your words, by al Qaeda

BERGEN: Absolutely. And it's part of a pattern, Wolf.

We've seen a lot of attacks now on Western hotels. And it's a two-fer for these groups, because it's a Western brand name, it's a hotel likely to house a lot of Western tourists.

We saw that with an attack on a Sheraton hotel in Karachi, Pakistan, back in 2002 that killed 12 French defense contractors. We saw that also with the attack on the hotel in Egypt, the Hilton hotel back in 2004, that killed more than two dozen people.

And so I've been very concerned about particularly Western brand name hotels. We also saw an attack, by the way, on a JW Marriott in Jakarta, Indonesia, about two years back.

So, if you're running a Western hotel in a country where you've got these kinds of groups, it's a problem. And I was in Amman just one -- two months ago, staying at a hotel I won't mention. But the security there seemed to me to be incredibly lax.

And I know you've been there many times. It doesn't seem that the hotels in that particular part of Jordan really had a very serious system to deal with this problem