AMMAN, Jordan (AP) – As the accused shouted insults, a Jordanian military judge convicted eight Islamic militants Wednesday of plotting to kill U.S. troops in Iraq and Americans and Israelis in Jordan.
“You are the enemy and a tyrant!” the militants yelled from the dock as the presiding judge read out the verdict. “We are all fighters for God and Islam’s victory!” the defendants screamed as they stood in ankle chains and wearing long beards in Islamic fashion. The judge, whose name cannot be published for security reasons, handed down sentences of between two and 10 years’ imprisonment to the eight defendants, who were all Jordanians.
The alleged mastermind of the plot, Ahmad Shabaneh, 37, a Jordanian of Palestinian origin, was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. Two other defendants, who were convicted in absentia as they are at large, received the same sentence.
The remaining five defendants received prison terms from two years to 7 and a half years. “These accusations are an honor for us,” the defendants shouted.
The court found that in 2003 Shabaneh had formed a militant group called “Al-Taa’efa al-Mansourah,” or the Victorious Sect, which plotted to send militants to Iraq to attack U.S. forces. It also planned to attack U.S. soldiers engaged in training Iraqi police recruits at a desert camp in Jordan. The prosecution did not say if the group was linked to al-Qaeda, but the indictment said Shabaneh was influenced by the ideology of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born leader of al-Qaida in Iraq who was killed by a U.S. airstrike in Iraq in June.
The indictment said Shabaneh had distributed leaflets and computer discs bearing quotations of al-Zarqawi at mosques in Jordan.
The prosecution also said some members of the group planned to attack Israelis in Jordan, but it did not specify whether they were tourists or diplomats. The verdict can be appealed.