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Search for Zarqawi Continues Following Attacks in Jordan

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 10, 2005 – Iraqi and coalition forces remain hot on the trail of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al Qaeda's leader in Iraq, following the deadly Nov. 9 hotel bombings in Jordan, the Pentagon's top spokesman said today.

However, it's still too soon to know for certain that Zarqawi was the force behind the attacks on the Grand Hyatt, Radisson and Days Inn hotels in Amman, Lawrence Di Rita told Pentagon reporters.

The Jordanian government is investigating the attacks, and until the results of that investigation are known, there's no firm evidence that al Qaeda directed the attacks, he said. Although, Di Rita added, "It's certainly plausible."

Al Qaeda's Iraqi network, headed by Jordanian militant Zarqawi, has claimed responsibility for the attacks, Di Rita acknowledged. He noted that the attacks are consistent with those that al Qaeda has conducted in Iraq and elsewhere around the world.

"The fact is that this is a terrorist organization that has global reach, and we have seen it yet again in Jordan, ... the kind of devastation they can do when they choose to attack innocent civilians," he said.

As Jordan's investigation moves forward, Iraqi and coalition forces in Iraq continue to seek out Zarqawi and his followers. "We are capturing a lot al Qaeda people inside Iraq," Di Rita said, although he acknowledged there's no way to know how many more remain at large. Zarqawi remains a serious threat, still capable of conducting tremendous damage, and continues to be a primary focus of coalition and Iraqi troops, he said.

"There is a lot of pressure on him and his network inside Iraq, that is for sure," Di Rita said. "He is spending a lot of his time trying to stay alive."

Coalition members have come close to capturing Zarqawi on several occasions, Di Rita said. "But getting close isn't good enough," he said. "We know that."

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