Middle East

Jordan arrests Zarqawi cousins on way back from Syria

Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is seen in these undated photos - the photo at left released in Amman, Jordan, Dec. 14, 2002, the photo at right relesaed by the Department of State September 2004. (AP Photo/File)

AMMAN: Jordanian authorities have arrested two cousins of slain Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as they returned home from conflict-hit Syria, a Salafist leader told AFP on Thursday.

"Border guards on Tuesday arrested Zayed Sweiti and Firas Khalailah, who are cousins of Abu Musab on their way back from Syria, where they spent five month," Mohammad Shalabi, known as Abu Sayyaf, said.

Jordanian-born Zarqawi was killed in an air strike by the US military in Iraq in 2006.

"A third jihadist, Mohammad Najmi, was also arrested with Sweiti and Khalailah. The three men decided to return to Jordan because there was no fighting against Syrian regime troops in the area the were in," Abu Sayyaf said.

"The intelligence department is currently interrogating them."

Jordanian officials were not immediately available for comment.

At least 10 jihadists were arrested in Jordan when they tried to enter Syria in April and June, according to Salafist leaders.

Jordan shares land borders with Iraq, Israel, Syria, the West Bank and Saudi Arabia.

It has beefed up its security along the border with Syria, since uprising against the government erupted in mid-March last year.





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