Jordan says activists it has detained are linked to a Hamas leader in Syria |

Jordan says activists it has detained are linked to a Hamas leader in Syria

AMMAN, Jordan – Militants arrested last week were in the final phase of plotting an attack on Jordanian targets under orders from a Hamas official in Syria, a government spokesman said Tuesday.The spokesman, Nasser Judeh, would not say how many activists had been arrested or what their nationality was.”They received instructions from Hamas leaders, specifically an official from the military wing of Hamas movement who is currently in Syria,” he told The Associated Press. He declined to identify the militant leader.The activists had “reached the implementation phase of operations that targeted Jordanian institutions and public figures,” he said.Hamas rejected the allegations Tuesday.”It’s outright brazen lies,” Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, told the AP. “The Jordanians know that Hamas doesn’t indulge in such activities.”Mousa Abu Marzouk, deputy leader of Hamas politburo in Damascus, said the allegations were “totally untrue.” Abu Marzouk also denied that any member of Hamas had been arrested in Jordan or that any Hamas weapons had been seized and reiterated that his group’s operations were restricted to the Palestinian territories.A Syrian Foreign Ministry official also denied the Jordanian allegations. “Syria has no information on the existence of a military leader of Hamas on its territories,” the official told AP on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to give official statements.He said all Hamas leaders in Syria were “political leaders with purely political and media missions.”After Jordan detained the Hamas members and discovered their arms cache, it canceled a scheduled April 19 visit by Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar, who is also the Hamas leader in Gaza.Judeh said he could not specify how many activists were arrested because that would harm efforts to arrest more Hamas militants at large. “We can’t pre-empt the investigation under way because we are in pursuit of others,” he said.After the original discovery of a Hamas arms cache early last week, more weapons were seized, Judeh said Tuesday.”A detained Hamas activist guided authorities to where they were hidden in a village in northern Jordan.”He said the new weapons included explosives and Swedish-British light anti-tank weapons.Jordan has accused the Hamas activists of threatening the country’s national security by smuggling weapons from neighboring Syria. Newspapers ran front-page photos last week of the alleged Hamas missiles, detonators and explosives.Amman has accused Syria before of not stopping Islamic militants from smuggling arms to Jordan, a moderate Arab nation with close ties to the United States and a peace treaty with Israel, signed in 1994.Syria is home to the Hamas’ exiled leadership, including current boss Khaled Mashaal, and has frequently rejected U.S. calls to expel the group’s leaders.Jordan – which once expelled Mashaal for his activities – has called on Hamas to accept an Arab peace plan, which entails full recognition of Israel in exchange for full withdrawal from territory captured in the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli wars.The United States, which has imposed economic sanctions on Damascus, also accuses Syria of allowing militants to cross into Iraq to fight the U.S.-led multinational force there. Syria has denied the charges.Vail, Colorado

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