AMMAN, Jordan – The plan was to unleash mayhem across an entire city and bring Amman to its knees, in the words of one security official. It would start with suicide bombings at two shopping malls, then build momentum as teams of terrorists blew up cars and raked cafes with machine-gun fire.
In the midst of the ensuing chaos, the attackers would turn their attention to the U.S. Embassy, the primary target and a long-sought prize for the organization that investigators say provided critical support for the scheme: al-Qaida’s affiliate in Iraq. Using the terrorist group’s expertise and weapons from Syria’s civil war, the plotters planned to rain mortar shells on the American compound and homes nearby.
They wanted to kill as many as possible – Muslim and Christians, said a Jordanian government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing probe into the most serious terrorist plot uncovered here in nearly a decade.
Jordanian authorities foiled the plot last month, arresting 11 men said to be the ringleaders. Although the suspects are Jordanians, the investigation has affirmed the key role played by al-Qaida’s Iraqi branch, commonly known as AQI.
Northern California rocked by storms
Residents of Northern California endured the brunt of another powerful storm that drenched the area with yet another round of pounding rain and strong winds, but damage from the storm was less than expected, officials said.
The latest storm system – the third to hit the area in less than a week – moved across the region late Saturday and early Sunday dropping as much as an inch of rain per hour in some areas, toppling trees and knocking out electrical service to tens of thousands of people, officials said.
Rivers across Northern California swelled from the deluge, but did not flood as extensively as had been expected, officials said.
Shelling in Syria leaves 15 dead
Syrian warplanes and artillery blasted parts of the capital Damascus and its rebellious suburbs on Sunday, part of what activists described as intense fighting as rebels try to push their way into the center of President Bashar Assad’s power base.
In central Syria, a car bomb killed at least 15 people, the official news agency reported.
The Britain-based activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighter jets struck twice in the suburb of Daraya as regime artillery pounded other districts just south of Damascus.
The Syrian air force also launched airstrikes on the northern city of Aleppo, some cities in the northern province of Idlib and the Mediterranean city of Latakia, the Observatory said. The group relies on reports from activists on the ground.
Afghan air base hit by suicide bombers
Taliban suicide bombers attacked a joint U.S.-Afghan air base in eastern Afghanistan early Sunday, detonating explosives at the gate and sparking a gunbattle that lasted at least two hours with American helicopters firing down on the militants.
The attackers and at least five Afghans were killed, officials said. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the assault.
It was the largest attack on the Jalalabad air base since February, when a suicide car killed nine Afghans, six of them civilians.