Majority of Jordanians:Zarqawi a terrorist

AMMAN, Jordan, June 19 (UPI) -- The death of al-Qaida's chief in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is still reverberating in Jordan, where the majority of the population sees him as a terrorist.

An opinion poll conducted by the non-governmental organization Epsos Stat Center for daily al-Ghad indicated that 59 percent of Jordanians consider their countryman Zarqawi, whose real name is Ahmed Fadel al-Khalayila, a "terrorist."


The poll, which surveyed 1,014 people over 18-years-old from various walks of life, also showed that 67 percent refused to see Zarqawi as a "martyr," as he was dubbed by Jordan's Islamist movement, sparking an uproar among Jordanians.

The Islamist movement was harshly criticized by the government and parliament after four Islamic legislators offered condolences to the family of Zarqawi, who was killed June 7 in a U.S. raid on his hideout near Baaqouba, east of Baghdad.

The four legislators were arrested and referred to trial on charges of stirring sectarian divisions and undermining national unity by provoking the sentiments of the families of the victims of last year's triple Amman hotel bombings, the responsibilty for which was claimed by Zarqawi's al-Qaida organization in Mesopotamia.


The families of the victims staged protests asking for the punishment of the legislators and a public apology, but the Islamist movement refused to apologize, charging that the official and public uproar was "provoked and organized" by the government.

The poll, with a margin of error of 3.2 percent, indicated that 70 percent of the sample saw offering condolences for Zarwqawi's death as a provocation of national sentiments, especially for the families of the Amman bombings in which 60 people died.

Only 15 percent, mostly in the 18 to 39 age bracket, described Zarqawi as a "martyr" or an "ordinary citizen."

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