Amman, Asharq Al-Awsat- Lawyers acting on behalf of Islamic militants suspected of belonging to a terrorist cell appeared at a military court on Wednesday and presented the court with information claiming their clients are innocent.
The defense team asked the judge to call General Saad Khayr, the former head of Jordanian intelligence, to the witness box and requested the prosecutor general and a leading intelligence official engaged in the fight against terrorism be questioned in court.
Asharq al Awsat attended the trial and heard a member of the defense team ask the judge to disregard his client, Hassan Omar al Sameek’s, earlier comments, made on 13 July 2005, where he attacked the Jordanian government saying, “I will use all my powers to kill you”, as they were uttered in a moment of madness.
Amazingly, the suspect intervened through the bars of the courtroom cage and loudly refused to apologize for his words. Addressing his lawyer, al Sameek, shouted, “These words are you own. You are lying!" causing much commotion in the courtroom. The head of the terrorist cell, Azmi al Jayousi intervened to diffuse the tension and briefly spoke to his associate.
Chanting religious slogans, the suspects had entered the room in two groups, at the start of the morning session, with al Jayousi amongst the last to appear.
Unlike previous sessions, where a number of militants admitted taking part in bombings and threatened government officials present in court with swift vengeance by Jordanian, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, with one suspect Ahmad Samir saying, “Await the reaction from our brothers. Your blood will be shed”, the session was relatively quiet and orderly.
Requests by members of the defense team to their clients to remain silent and calm appeared to have been heeded as the militants only repeated a few slogans throughout the short session which was later suspended by the judge. Officials who have been following the trial told Asharq al Awsat one of the suspects did not want his lawyers to plead for mercy, as he believed his actions were justified.
The terrorist cell headed by al Jayousi, which comprises of Syrian nationals, was discovered by Jordanian security officials in April 2004 and accused of planning to carry out a number of suicide missions, under orders from al Zarqawi, who according to the prosecution, met al Jayousi in Afghanistan and asked him to supervise a number of men to attack the headquarters of the Jordanian intelligence services using a car bomb with chemical weapons to maximize casualties. Sources estimate the bomb would have killed tens of thousands of people.
On 17th October 2004, the prosecutor general indicted 13 suspects, including al Zarqawi, of which 9 are currently under trial with 7 separate charges. If found guilty, the suspects face the death penalty. The accusations are, “conspiracy to undertake terrorist activities, belonging to a banned organization which calls itself the Unity Brigade, unlicensed possession of explosive materials to be used in illegal activity, including automatic rifles and firearms, and providing sanctuary for ma fugitive from justice,” and attempt to murder the general prosecutor.