Jordan thwarts 'massive attack'
CNN Producer Caroline Faraj   4/14/04

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (CNN) -- Jordan's King Abdullah has praised his nation's security services for thwarting a terrorist plot he said would have killed thousands of civilians.

Jordanian security last week intercepted three trucks, believed to be traveling from the northern border with Syria, that were packed with explosives intended for government buildings, the U.S. Embassy and a number of hotels.

Authorities arrested a number of people over a period of nearly 10 days.  Jordanian security agencies had been on high alert following the arrest of two alleged terrorists on April 1.

In a letter to Gen. Saad Khair, the head of Jordan's intelligence department, King Abdullah said the scheme was unprecedented in terms of the quantity of explosives, the means of the attack and the targets.

"Your dedication and great efforts have undermined a terrorist plot that attempted to destabilize the country's security and stability using explosive cars," the King wrote.

In a letter of response, Khair hinted the detainees were members of fundamentalist cells.

"The terrorist and evil groups had sought to terrorize our women, children and elderly by exploiting religion, which is far from their evil plots," Khair wrote.

The exchange of letters came on the eve of the monarch's planned visit to the United States, where he is scheduled to meet U.S. President George W. Bush.

Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Jordan said last week that Jordanian authorities had thwarted a terrorist plot against its embassy building in Amman.

Also Tuesday, the U.S. State Department issued a statement calling on its citizens in Jordan to "remain vigilant" in the face of recent information indicating the U.S. embassy in Amman had been the planned target of Islamic extremists whom Jordanian authorities arrested earlier this month.