AMMAN Ñ Jordan has begun the trial of operatives of an Al
Qaida-aligned insurgency cell that allegedly plotted a chemical weapons
attack in the Hashemite kingdom.
Officials said 13 defendants have been indicted on seven charges
connected to a plot to attack Jordan's intelligence headquarters in April
2004. They said the group also planned to strike the U.S. embassy in Amman
as well as the office of Jordan's prime minister in Amman.
The defendants, on trial in State Security Court in Amman, were said to
be members of the so-called Unification Brigades. The alleged members
include three Saudi and three Syrian nationals, Middle East Newsline reported.
Officials said the insurgency cell was led by Azmi Jayussi. Jayussi was
said to have directed the alleged plot to destroy Jordan's intelligence
headquarters outside Amman with chemical weapons. They said Jayussi and his
network were aligned with Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi. One of the defendants was
identified as Saud Mohammed Khalayleh, a cousin of Al Zarqawi.
[On Thursday, the London-based A-Sharq Al Awsat reported that Jordan has
arrested two Israeli nationals accused of seeking to buy weapons for rebels
in the Sudanese province of Darfour. The newspaper, which quoted both Arab
and Jordanian sources, said the Israelis also trained Darfour rebels in
Israel. Israel has not yet responded to the report.]
The three Saudi nationals were tried in absentia in proceedings that
began on Dec. 7. Officials said the Saudis and the Jordanians were trained
to combat the U.S. military in Afghanistan in late 2001.
"But, after they found that their mission was impossible, they replaced
it with carrying terror attacks on American targets in Jordan including the
U.S. embassy," a Jordanian statement said.
The case has been adjourned until Dec. 22 after nine defendants refused
to cooperate. They cited their conditions of detention.
In April 2004, Zarqawi was sentenced to death by a Jordanian military
court for the October 2002 murder of a U.S. diplomat in Amman. Zarqawi has
been charged in another case that began on Dec. 13 and included charges of
plotting to destroy the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad