Friday, August 19, 2005

Harassing Fire on US Navy Ships

Three or so Katyusha rockets got fired at two US Navy amphibious ships as reported here.
The Abdullah Azzam group was among several that claimed responsibility for previous attacks on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, including the Oct. 7 car bombing of a hotel in the resort of Taba, which borders Israel, and the July 23 Sharm el-Sheik bombings that killed at least 64 people.
"A group of our holy warriors ... targeted a gathering of American military ships docking in Aqaba port and also in Eilat port with three Katyusha rockets and the warriors returned safe to their headquarters," the statement said.
These brave "holy warriors" managed to kill one Jordanian soldier and wound another.

Katyusha rocket A Katyusha rocket is essentially an unguided trajectory weapon- you select a target and try to line the launch system up so that the thing will come close. Used by the Soviet Union in WWII, the system consisted of multiple rockets mounted on multiple launchers and seems to have been more of a barrage weapon designed to create a "rain of steel" within a fairly tight area than a precision munitions delivery system. The payload is described as being about a quarter of that carried by a SCUD rocket. (Katyusha photo source)

Three rockets is not a serious attack, but do serve as harasssing fire and to score PR points for the "holy warriors" - they can now say, "Look, Ali, we made the US Navy run away. We are such brave and powerful holy warriors."

The US Navy will be back, though. And equipped properly to deal with glorified mortar fire.

Beware the counter-battery fire, Ali.

USS Ashland
USS Kearsarge

UPDATE: Bubblehead has more on the ESG and, naturally, throws in some sub stuff. (Hat tip to Mudville's Dawn Patrol)

UPDATE2: Terrorism Unveiled coverage. She says
We shouldn't write this attack off because it didn't do much damage, although it did claim the life of a Jordanian soldier, may God rest his soul. If you recall, an attack was attempted on the USS The Sullivans, but was unsuccessful because the boat-bomb that was to be driven into the side sank with the weight of the explosives. Not much later, the USS Cole was attacked in the same fashion killing 17 US Sailors. It is al-Qaida strategy to put forth the same attempts until they are successful. In other words, if they have their sights set on disrupting the US Naval Fleet based in Bahrain, they may continue to try to do so.
Well, maybe. But some targets are prepared to fight back and forewarned is forearmed.

UPDATE3: The Counterterrorism Blog asks "Jordan Missile Attacks: Al Qaeda & Hezbollah Working Together?"

UPDATE4: Most clueless quote (so far) from here
Officials said the attackers may have missed their intended target of two U.S. navy vessels docked at the port of Aqaba, both of which apparently left the area shortly after the rockets were fired Friday morning.
Those are some sharp officials.

UPDATE5: Rocket launcher reportedly found.
Investigators are looking into how three, five-foot-long Katyusha rockets entered Jordan, which has a strong security posture due to its vicinity to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Iraq. It has also been targeted previously by Islamic extremists.
Hezbollah pounded Israel's north with Katyusha rockets for two decades in a guerrilla war that ended with Israel's pullout from southern Lebanon in 2000.
In December 2001, three Hezbollah members were arrested in Jordan after entering through Syria to deliver Katyusha rockets to Palestinian militants in the bordering West Bank opposed to Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories.

UPDATE6: Arrests made.

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