Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed that four of its members carried out the attacks to hit “enemies of the faith, Jews and crusaders” who congregated in Amman.
The hotels had been identified in the media as US-owned establishments, a statement denied by Mary Nazzal-Batayneh, Owner Representative of the Radisson SAS, one of the bombed hotels.
“Firstly, news reports have been indicating that the Radisson SAS was specifically attacked because it is an American hotel.
“I want to make it clear that the Radisson SAS is a Scandinavian chain and owned by Palestinian-Jordanians,” Nazzal-Batayneh said in a statement released to the media.
A wedding hall seems to have been the target of the attack on the Radisson SAS.
Aljazeera.net’s senior editor Firas al-Atraqchi interviewed Nazzal-Batayneh, who had just returned to Amman from London, where she has a home.
Aljazeera.net: How did you react when you first received the news that your hotel had been hit? Were you in the hotel?
Mary Nazzal-Batayneh: We were initially very confused and hoped that it was not true. My immediate family and I were in London when the explosions occurred and took the first plane back to Amman. When we realised that there were human casualties, we were devastated.
Can you describe what happened at the wedding hall?
There was blood, human remains and hair everywhere. It was extremely gruesome; women’s shoes and bags were strewn amongst broken glass.
The amount of destruction is immense.
The bomb was designed to injure and kill as many people as possible, nails and metal bearings were embedded in the walls.
Were any staff members hurt or killed?
Yes, tragically, one of our young waiters was killed by the blast. He had been called in that night to help with the wedding.
How did the hotel staff react in the immediate aftermath?
The hotel staff were absolutely phenomenal. There are no words to describe their courage, strength and determination to save as many lives as humanly possible. I think if it wasn’t for their bravery and resolve, more lives would have been lost.
The Jordanian civil services were also very swift in their response and we are extremely thankful to them for all their help. Considering that this was an unprecedented tragedy in Jordan, the ambulances, the fire brigade, and others were on the scene immediately and were able to handle a gruesome and painful situation remarkably well.
The Al-Qaida in Iraq group has alleged that the hotel is a staging ground for operations against Iraqis. What is your response?
It is well known that generally Jordan is hosting people who are connected to Iraq in some way or another, like the media and relief services, for example.
We were not targeted for any particular reason just like the people who died were not deliberately chosen. We are stunned and broken-hearted.
People can only engage in unsubstantiated speculation on why these crimes were perpetrated. For the time being, we are concentrating on the task at hand and supporting each other as much as possible.
Has this sealed Jordan’s tourism future?
Absolutely not. The future remains bright and we remain confident. The warm and welcoming nature of the people of Jordan make it a country that visitors will return to against all odds.
We were surprised that even on the night of the bombing most of our guests actually remained in our hotel and have stayed with us ever since. Our occupancy rate over the past two days has only dropped marginally.
How have the Jordanian people reacted?
From what I have seen, the Jordanian people have really united. Jordan is such a diverse and vibrant multicultural country and we are all standing proud of Jordan and all the country’s achievements.
Throughout the day [Thursday and Friday], masses of people congregated outside the Radisson SAS reciting songs of solidarity.
At night we hosted a candlelight vigil for those whose lives were stolen. I predict that these displays of resilience will only strengthen as the days pass.