AMMAN, Jordan, (AP) -A Jordanian man of Palestinian origin was convicted Thursday and sentenced to death in the fatal shooting of a British tourist he saw as an enemy of Islam.
Nabeel Ahmed Issa al-Jaourah opened fire on Westerners touring the Roman amphitheater in Amman three months ago while shouting the Muslim battle cry of “Allahu akbar” or “God is great.”
British accountant Christopher Stokes died in the attack. Five other sightseers from Australia, Britain, the Netherlands and New Zealand were wounded, along with a Jordanian police officer.
The military State Security Court said it found al-Jaourah “guilty beyond any doubt of undertaking a terrorist action that has led to the killing of an innocent person.” The verdict can be appealed.
“You deserve to die for your hideous crime,” the court’s presiding judge told the defendant. The judge’s name can’t be published under the court’s standing regulations.
“I am a holy warrior and I thank God for this verdict,” responded the 38-year-old al-Jaourah. who wore a long beard and frequently shouted “Allahu akbar” as the verdict was being announced.
Prosecutors have said al-Jaourah acted alone in the Sept. 4 shooting and had no links to terrorist groups.
Still, prosecutors charged him with terrorism, saying he “terrorized” the tourists.
In a previous hearing, al-Jaourah said that he received God’s “blessing when I killed a British man and hurt others, because they are fighting the Prophet and his soldiers since (the) Balfour Declaration” — a reference to the pivotal 1917 document by the British government promising support for the creation of Israel.
“The British people … insulted the honorable Quran (Islam’s holy book) and women who wear the head cover,” said al-Jaourah, who is a Jordanian citizen of Palestinian origin. He was apparently referring to comments in October by British House of Commons leader Jack Straw, who has said he believes that face-covering Muslim veils inhibit communication.
Al-Jaourah had pleaded innocent to the murder charges. But after his comments, prosecutors said he had confessed and urged the court “to hand him the harshest punishment.”
In recent years, Jordan has carried out a string of trials against suspected terror cells operating in the country, which is sandwiched between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Iraq war.