The group of defendants include three Saudis – who are to be tried in absentia – Jordanian Muslim cleric Muhammad Chalabi, also known as Abu Sayyaf.

According to state security prosecutor, Colonel Mahmud Obaidat, Abu Sayyaf was captured by authorities on Saturday.

The pro-government daily al-Rai newspaper, quoting the official list of charges, said the group initially wanted to go to Afghanistan to fight US troops there.

"When the group found difficulty in travelling to Afghanistan they swapped the idea of travelling there with a plan to carry out the same attacks on Jordanian land," al-Rai said.

The most prominent of the 13 accused is Saud Muhammad Ali al-Khalaylah, the cousin of Ahmad Fadhil Nazal al-Khalaylah, known as Abu Musab Zarqawi, a suspected associate of Usama bin Ladin, the daily said.

Zarqawi was sentenced to death in absentia by a Jordanian court in September last year for plotting attacks against US and Israeli targets in the kingdom.

He is also suspected of orchestrating the murder of US diplomat Laurence Foley in Amman last October.