Jordan convicts five for terror plots

A military court in Jordan has found five people, including one fugitive, guilty of plotting terrorist attacks on Jordanian intelligence agents, foreign tourists and hotels.

    Three luxury hotels are believed to have been targeted

    The men were sentenced on Sunday to prison terms ranging from 10 years to life.

    The court said it was "convinced beyond doubt" that the five - including the cell's mastermind, Muhammad Ratib Qtaisha, a Jordanian fugitive - were guilty of conspiring to commit acts of terrorism and illegally possessing explosives.

    The four defendants in police custody denied the charges at the start of their trial last September.

    On Sunday, they shouted insults at the military judges after the verdict was pronounced.

    "God is our protector and America is yours,'' shouted the men, who wore dark blue prison uniforms.

    The men see Jordan's political policies and pro-Western outlook as being at odds with their own.

    It was not immediately clear whether the men would appeal against the verdicts.

    Luxury hotels

    The prosecution said the cell's targets included three hotels in districts of the Jordanian capital, Amman, as well as the tourists and intelligence agents.

    The indictment did not specify the tourists' nationalities.

    Al-Zarqawi has been sentenced
    in absentia by a Jordanian court

    The military tribunal, officially known as the State Security Court, tries cases dealing with national security.

    Initially, the court handed down the death penalty for all five defendants, but quickly commuted it to give them another chance to repent.

    It then sentenced the four defendants in detention to 10 years in jail with hard labour.

    Qtaisha, the fugitive who was tried in absentia, received a life sentence.

    The indictment claimed that Qtaisha, who is believed to be in neighbouring Iraq, conceived the plot from Iraq in 2004 and provided military training and explosives to the other four.

    The alleged conspiracy, however, was foiled when police arrested the four in separate raids on 21 February 2005.

    Prominent families

    The four men, from Jordan's northern city of Salt and aged between 20 and 24, were identified as Usama Abu-Hazim, Hatim Insur, Muhammad Arabiya and Yazan al-Haliq. They all are from prominent tribal Jordanian families.

    The prosecution said Abu-Hazim was in charge of contacting Qtaisha in Iraq and other militants in Syria and Lebanon, where some of the defendants were purportedly trained in manufacturing explosives, using weapons, recruiting others and handling police interrogation.

    Jordan, a close US ally, has in recent years arrested scores of alleged militants for plotting to carry out attacks in the country.

    It also has sentenced men to death in absentia, including Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born al-Qaida in Iraq leader.

    Al-Zarqawi, who is not linked to this case, was blamed for a triple hotel bombing in Amman last November that killed 63 people, including three Iraqi bombers.

    SOURCE: Unspecified


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