U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2004 - Jordan

Jordan continued its strong support for the global war on terrorism in 2004. Jordanian security services disrupted numerous terrorist plots during the year, including several that targeted US interests in Jordan. It has aggressively pursued the network of fugitive Jordanian terrorist Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, deemed responsible for numerous plots and attacks in Jordan and Iraq. In the most serious plot disrupted to date in Jordan, security services in April arrested Zarqawi affiliates in the advanced stages of a plan to launch truck bombs against Jordanian Government targets and the US Embassy in Amman. In an unprecedented move, the Jordanian Government aired the plotters' confessions on state-run television, emphasizing their plans to kill thousands, including Jordanian citizens. In late April, Government officials, including Queen Rania, joined thousands of Jordanians in a street march against terrorism. The Government publicly condemned terrorist acts throughout the world. King Abdullah was an outspoken critic of terrorism and Islamic extremism, and in September directed religious authorities to deliver the "Amman Message," a declaration that rejects religious extremism and terrorism, and seeks to promote moderate Islam and dialogue.

Jordan's State Security court, which has purview over terrorism-related cases, maintained a heavy caseload over the year, most of which involved Zarqawi-affiliated suspects. The Court in April sentenced eight men to death, including Zarqawi and five others in absentia, for the murder of USAID official Laurence Foley in front of his Amman home on October 28, 2002. The Government announced in July that Muammar al-Jaghbir, sentenced to death in absentia for his role in the Foley murder, was in Jordanian custody and would be re-tried according to Jordanian law. In May, the Court found guilty three Jordanians – including one of Zarqawi's nephews – for plotting attacks against US and Israeli tourists in the country. In June, the Court sentenced Ahmad al-Riyati and eight men being tried in absentia (including Zarqawi and reputed Ansar al-Islam leader Mullah Krekar) to prison for plotting against US interests. In October, the Court sentenced Bilal al-Hiyari, a Zarqawi fundraiser, to six months in jail for his activities. It also indicted suspected Zarqawi affiliate Miqdad al-Dabbas for planning attacks against Jordanian interests in Iraq. In November, the Court began the trial of the 13 suspects accused in the April plot, including Zarqawi in absentia.

In one of the few non-Zarqawi related terrorism cases, the State Security Court in September indicted two Jordanians for plotting to attack foreign diplomats in Amman. Separately, the Court in November acquitted four men of charges they plotted attacks against US and Israeli targets in Jordan, although they were sentenced to one year in jail for possession of an automatic weapon. In late December, the court convicted 11 men on weapons charges in a plot against the US Embassy and US military forces in Jordan.

The State Security Court also moved forward on other long-standing terrorism cases. In June, the Court affirmed its guilty verdict (first handed down in September 2000) against ten men accused of plotting attacks during Jordan's millennial celebrations, sentencing two to death. In October, Jordan's Court of Cassation, which hears appeals from the State Security Court, upheld the lower court's guilty verdict of US-Jordanian citizen Ra'ed Hijazi, one of those sentenced to death for his role in the plot, but commuted the death sentence, sentencing him to 20 years in jail with labor. The decision is final, and no more appeals will be heard.

Border security remained a top concern of Jordanian officials in 2004, as the Jordanian Government continued to interdict weapons and potential infiltrators at its borders. In July, Jordanian border officials intercepted and killed armed individuals attempting to infiltrate northern Israel from Jordan. Jordanian border officials allegedly intercepted suspects involved in the April Zarqawi plot as they tried to enter Jordan from Syria. In November, a terrorist driving a vehicle loaded with explosives tried to cross the Iraqi-Jordanian border, but was stopped before the explosives detonated.


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