Jordan Sentences Six Terrorists to Death

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:08 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - A Jordanian military court sentenced six men to death on Monday for planning to carry out terror attacks against American, Christian, Jewish and Israeli tourists during millennium celebrations in Jordan.

The six were among 28 charged terrorists - 12 of them in absentia - with possession of weapons and explosives, conspiracy to carry out bombings over the New Year and association with the Saudi militant Osama bin Laden.

bin Laden, believed to be hiding out in Afghanistan, is wanted in the US for allegedly masterminding the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in which 259 people were killed.

Four of the six terrorists sentenced to hang were among those tried in absentia. The death sentences of the other two were commuted to life in prison.

"You are the criminals, Allahu Akbar [Allah is greater]," Saed Hijazi reportedly shouted after the court commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment.

Six other accused were acquitted and 12 more were given prison terms ranging from 7\'bd to 10 years.

Jordan usually commutes all death sentences, and all the verdicts will be appealed.

The accused had reportedly planned to bomb Mt Nebo, the traditional location where Moses first saw the Promised Land, as well as a Christian village along the Jordan River believed by some to be the place where Jesus was baptized.

"The court has no doubt that those sentenced to death had a determined will to carry out terrorist attacks against American and Jewish interests in Jordan," said Colonel Tayel Raqad, the tribunal's presiding judge.

Fourteen of the 16 who appeared before the court are Jordanians of Palestinian origin who reject any dialogue with Israel for a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The remaining two are an Iraqi and an Algerian.

The other 12 are believed to be hiding out in Britain, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Syria.

All the defendants present pleaded innocent to the charges and denied any connection with bin Laden.

However, found among the belongings of one of the accused was a CD-Rom containing information on explosives and how to manufacture them as well as data on toxic and heavy weaponry, the court heard earlier.

The CIA and FBI obtained copies of the disc, which was found to contain a six-volume manual used by bin Laden to train militants at terrorist camps in Afghanistan, according to a report on USA Today on Sunday.

The "Encyclopedia," a 1,000-page manual written in Arabic, contains "information on how to recruit followers, conduct terrorist operations and assemble bombs similar to those that destroyed US embassies in East Africa in 1998," the report quoted senior US intelligence officials as saying.

Neither the CIA or FBI would comment on the report, but other officials were quoted as saying that the manual provided a "gold mine" of information on bin Laden's tactics that could be used to slow or disrupt terrorist activities abroad.