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Attacks a 'a major shock' to Jordanians

Country's Ambassador to U.S. talks with Matthews hours after bombings
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At least 57 are dead, and more than 100 are injured after simultaneous explosions hit three hotels tonight in Jordan’s capital city of Amman today.  Blasts rocked the Hyatt, Radisson and Days Inn, hotels popular with Americans and Israelis. 

A senior U.S. counterterrorism official tells NBC News there is no claim of responsibility yet for the attacks. 

According to Reuters News Service, one Jordanian police official said the attacks carry the trademark of al Qaeda.  The Jordanian news service reports that the attacks were caused by suicide bombers. 

To learn more about the Jordan bombings, Hardball’s Chris Matthews spoke to Jordanian ambassador to the United States, Karim Kawar.

To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HARDBALL HOST: What is going on?  What do we know now about the bombings in Amman? 


This has come to us, of course, as a major shock.  This wasn't anticipated by any means. 

So far, the casualties have been mostly Jordanians.  They were suicide attacks.  One of the incidents took place during a wedding, where most of the casualties are and they are mostly Jordanian. 

MATTHEWS: Have you gotten any information from anyone claiming credit for this attack? 

KAWAR: No, not yet.  And, of course, our investigation will continue to identify the perpetrators of those attacks. 

MATTHEWS: Your government, the Abdullah — King Abdullah's government — has been successful in countering attempted terrorist activities over the years. 

Give us a sense of the kind of pressure on your government over the weeks and months coming into today to keep the terrorists at bay. 

KAWAR: Well, we have been fortunate in the past, as we have averted many of those potential attacks. 

The last attack was in the port of Aqaba, on the Red Sea, where, unfortunately, one Jordanian soldier was killed. 

Before that, we have averted two planned attacks, one that involved a potential target of the U.S. Embassy in Amman, that was in April of 2004, and going back to the year 2000, when there were attacks planned by al Qaeda to coincide with the millennium New Year’s Eve celebration.

MATTHEWS: We just had an attack way down in Australia, totally different part of the world, by terrorists, who say — actually they’re in trial right now — who say they did so, their motive was the war in Iraq.  They don't like the fact that we went to Iraq. 

Is there that kind of pressure or motive now, or do the terrorists even need a motive to attack Amman right now, your country? 

KAWAR: Well, this is an ideological war that we see.  And any country that is progressive, that is modernizing, such as Jordan, this is where we see the attacks being targeted.  So unfortunately, we are a victim like many of the other modern countries. 

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the hotels in question.  They’re familiar brand names for Americans, the Radisson, the Days Inn.  Who usually stays at those hotels? 

KAWAR: Certainly many tourists and visitors of Jordan, but also tourists from Arab countries throughout the Middle East, many also American business people.

As you might be well aware, that Jordan has been helping in the reconstruction efforts of Iraq, so many Iraqis and American business people meet in Jordan.  It has been a safe haven, so far, where those meetings could take place without any threat. 

MATTHEWS: What is King Abdullah’s — what is the view of the King Abdullah government, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan right now, toward our role in Iraq? 

Do you have a clear position supporting us?  Are you neutral?  How would you describe your government? 

KAWAR: Well, I must say, first of all, that His Majesty has condemned those attacks. 

Now, we look at the situation on the ground in Iraq, that regardless of what our position has been or any other country’s position, there is a situation that we have to deal with. 

The government of Jordan has been supportive of the political process.  We have encouraged all members of the Iraqi community to participate in the referendum, in the vote to pass the constitution. 

We are encouraging all Iraqis to support the upcoming elections in December.  We think that is the way to move forward. 

On the other hand, we have availed all our services to the Iraqis, to serve them as they deem necessary.  We have been training the Iraqi police forces in Jordan, 35,000 of them over two years, that have been successful in going back to their home country and helping in the security situation there. 

Watch each night at 5 and 7 p.m. ET on MSNBC.