Serious news in the world of horror tonight as it is being reported that Moustapha Akkad the man behind the Halloween franchise was one of those injured in the recent bombings in the Middle East. The news gets worse as his daughter Reem is listed amongst the casualties of this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Akkad family as well as those who were affected, Read on for more.
The LA Times reports:
A branch of the Al Qaeda network led by Abu Musab Zarqawi, whose insurgents in Iraq have directed numerous attacks on U.S. soldiers and Iraqis, claimed responsibility today for the suicide bombings at three Western hotels here that killed at least 57 people and wounded more than 100.
In an Internet posting that could not be independently verified, Al Qaeda admitted responsibility for the Wednesday bombings, according to the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters gathered outside one of the three U.S.-based hotels in Amman, denouncing Zarqawi, the Al Qaeda-affiliated Jordanian-born militant.
President Bush today condemned the bombings, and pledged support for its ally in the war on terrorism.
“The killings should remind all of us that there is an enemy in this world that is willing to kill innocent people, willing to bomb a wedding celebration in order to advance their cause,” Bush said from the White House, shortly before meeting with President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen, another Middle East ally.
Wednesday’s attack, which killed at least one American, bore the “hallmarks of Al Qaeda,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan said today. But he added that no conclusions have been drawn over who carried out the attacks that shattered Jordan’s status as an oasis of relative calm in the Middle East.
Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister Marawn Muasher told reporters last night that although it was too early to tell for sure, he believed Zarqawi was “obviously the prime suspect.”
The blasts struck the Grand Hyatt, Radisson SAS and Days Inn in the Jordanian capital just before 9 p.m., sending clouds of black smoke billowing into the sky and leaving some of the bloodied victims lying on plush-carpeted floors.
At the Radisson, an assailant detonated an explosives belt in the midst of a wedding party in a crowded banquet hall, resulting in extensive casualties, officials said. At the Days Inn, a car bomber was unable to breach the security perimeter outside the hotel before detonating his explosives, Muasher told reporters.
Emergency workers rushing to the scenes used bellman’s carts to carry the wounded out of the hotels. The flood of victims overwhelmed hospitals.
A surgeon at Istiqlal Hospital reported “bodies coming left and right.” Sixteen corpses were placed in a single room and dozens of the injured were in danger of dying, the surgeon said.
One American was among the dead, an unnamed official from the State Department told the AP today, without releasing the victim’s name. One American was said to be severely injured and another remained in the hospital.
The majority of victims were Jordanian civilians. The injured included Moustapha Akkad, the internationally famed Syrian-born film director of “The Message” and “Lion of the Desert.” Akkad’s 30-year-old daughter, Reem, died in one of the blasts.
Reuters quoted a French U.N. official as saying, “I was eating with friends in the restaurant next to the bar when I saw a huge ball of fire shoot up to the ceiling and then everything went black.”
The U.S. Embassy was advising Americans in Amman to take what the spokesman called “common sense” precautions such as “avoiding large crowds and keeping a low profile.”
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Israelis staying at the Radisson on Wednesday had been evacuated before the attacks and escorted back home “apparently due to a specific security threat.”
Amos N. Guiora, a former senior Israeli counterterrorism official, said in a phone interview with The Times that sources in Israel had also told him about the pre-attack evacuations.
“It means there was excellent intelligence that this thing was going to happen,” said Guiora, a former leader of the Israel Defense Forces who now heads the Institute for Global Security Law and Policy at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. “The question that needs to be answered is why weren’t the Jordanians working at the hotel similarly removed?”
After the attacks, Jordanian security forces were placed on high alert, deploying throughout the capital around hotels, embassies and malls. The Jordanian government sealed off the borders and announced that all government and public offices would be closed in mourning today.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II condemned the attacks, calling them criminal acts committed by “a misled and misleading group.”