Jordan: 3 jailed for plot to kill Bush

Three terrorists sentenced for 15 years over plot to kill US president during 2006 visit to the kingdom.

bush waves 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
bush waves 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Jordan's military court convicted three terrorists Wednesday of plotting to assassinate US President George W. Bush during a 2006 visit to the kingdom, and sentenced them to 15 years in jail. The verdict came as Bush arrived in Israel on the first stop of a regional tour to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Israel's founding and also push for an elusive Mideast peace deal. He will also visit Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The Jordanian men - Nidhal Musleh al-Momani, Sattam al-Zawahrah and Tharwat Daraj, all in their 20s - were arrested on Nov. 28, 2006, the day before Bush landed in the Jordanian capital Amman. Prosecutors said they were found with machine guns and large plastic bottles filled with gasoline meant to be used for bombs, and had planned to attack the American and Danish embassies in Amman. The three were apparently unaware Denmark had no embassy in Jordan at the time. Defense attorneys called the case "exaggerated and unrealistic," saying their clients had neither the organizational capability nor the skills to carry out such attacks. But security officers testified that they overheard one of the defendants, al-Momani, saying he wanted to blow himself up in Bush's convoy. The men went on trial in 2007, pleading not guilty to charges that included planning to carry out terrorist attacks using flammable substances and illegal possession of explosives and automatic rifles. On Wednesday, the court found all three "guilty beyond doubt of the crime of plotting terrorism," according to the verdict statement. The defendants, wearing long beards and blue prison uniforms, kneeled as in prayer in the dock as the verdict was read out. They were initially sentenced to death, but the court commuted their jail terms to 15 years, saying they were "young men that deserved another chance in life to repent." Their lawyers said they would appeal the verdict. According to prosecutors, the three met in Zarqa - an industrial city northeast of Amman and the hometown of slain al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a US airstrike in Iraq two years ago.