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Bomb Fallout: Jordan Officials Out

Eleven top Jordanian officials, including the kingdom's national security adviser, resigned Tuesday in the wake of last week's triple hotel bombings, state-run TV announced.

Jordan also introduced strict security measures aimed at foreigners and said it was drafting the country's first anti-terrorism legislation to prevent more such attacks.

King Abdullah II appointed Marouf al-Bakhit, Jordan's ambassador to Israel, to replace outgoing security chief Saad Kheir, a former chief of Jordan's intelligence department.

No details were given for the resignation of Kheir and 10 others, including Royal Court chief and former prime minister Faisal Fayez, one of the king's closest confidants, and prominent religious advisers to Abdullah.

But a limited shake-up had been expected for some time.

Jordan's stepped-up security and the shakeup follows the Nov. 9 bombings of the Radisson SAS, Grand Hyatt and Days Inn hotels in Amman by a team of Iraqis. The attackers included three men who blew themselves up — and killed 57 others — and one of the men's wives, who claims her explosives-packed belt malfunctioned.

In a bid to keep foreign militants from operating covertly in Jordan, Interior Minister Awni Yirfas announced new regulations demanding that all Jordanians notify authorities within 48 hours of any foreigners renting an apartment or house.

"Violators of this regulation will face legal ramifications," Yirfas said without elaborating.

Authorities will demand that Jordanians provide the names, nationalities and passport details of any foreigner renting a property.

Jordan also has begun drafting tough new anti-terrorism laws that will likely be ready for parliament debate early next year, a top Interior Ministry official said.

The laws propose allowing any suspect to be held for questioning indefinitely and imposing penalties on "those who would expose the lives and properties of citizens to danger inside and outside the country," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Anyone condoning or justifying terrorist actions or supporting them financially will face penalties under the proposed laws, he added.

Ad-Dustour, Jordan's second-largest daily, also said the legislation was being drafted, citing the interior minister.

Jordanian security forces already wield far-reaching powers to arrest and hold suspects, but the proposed laws would be the country's first specifically designed to counter terrorism.

Fayez was expected to be appointed speaker of the 40-member senate, a body appointed by the king that liaises with Jordan's 110-member elected parliament.

He was replaced by Salam al-Turk, a retired army general and a former government official. King Abdullah is also the supreme commander of Jordan's military forces.


Senate appointments were expected this week, according to Jordanian newspapers.

The TV announcement made no reference to last Wednesday's attacks on three Amman hotels that killed 61 people and dented the reputation of the country's revered security services.

But the bombings sparked national outrage and raised concerns over the handling of the country's national security services.

There has also been criticism over how the four Iraqi cell members entered Jordan on Nov. 5 without being detected before carrying out their attacks.

Kheir coordinated between the king and different security apparatuses on national security issues such as counterterrorism, crime and border controls.

The bombings were claimed by al Qaeda in Iraq, which is headed by Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Abdullah, a strong opponent of militant Islam, also accepted the resignation of two top religious leaders, including Sheik Izzedine Khatib al-Tamimi, the country's highest judicial and religious leader.

Others to leave their posts included top economic, information technology and media advisers.

Tuesday's resignation announcements marked Jordan's last major reshuffle of official posts since July following a Cabinet shake up.

The moves came as more details emerged about the 35-year-old Iraqi woman who failed in her bid to blow herself up in an Amman hotel, with friends saying she had three brothers killed by U.S. forces.

The U.S. Embassy also said four Americans were among those killed in the attacks, raising the U.S. toll from three.

Just a day earlier, a woman suspected of being the fourth bomber, 35-year-old Sajida al-Rishawi, modeled a thick belt, packed with explosives and ball bearings, during a confession broadcast on Jordanian state television, reports CBS News correspondent David Hawkins. She nervously told her interrogators how she tried — and failed — to blow herself up.

Jordanians believe she's half of a husband-and-wife terror team sent by al-Zarqawi.

The U.S. military said during its Fallujah offensive last year it temporarily detained a man with the same name as one of the suicide bombers.