Al-Qaeda planned chemical bomb attack

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Officials close to the investigation said several terror suspects arrested in Jordan last month had confessed that the plots were hatched by Jordanian militant Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi, thought to be a close associate of al-Qaeda boss Osama bin Laden.

The officials said the terrorist cell was planning to attack Jordan’s secret service, the General Intelligence Department, with a chemical bomb that would have killed up to 20,000 people and caused large-scale destruction within 1km.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II said in a letter of thanks published this week to his intelligence chief, General Saad Kheir, that the arrests of the terror cell members had “saved thousands of lives”.

Jordanian officials say the arrests occurred after suspected militants entered Jordan from neighbouring Syria in at least three vehicles filled with explosives, detonators and raw material to be used in bomb-making.

Syrian officials have denied these claims.