Jordan considers hanging al-Qaida murder convict

The defendant is accused of leading a terror cell that plotted to stop Jordanian trucks on Iraqi roads and kill their passengers.

al qaida 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
al qaida 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
The prosecution urged a Jordanian military court Wednesday to sentence to death an Iraqi charged in terror attacks on Jordanians in Iraq and of belonging to al-Qaida. The defendant, Ziad Khalaf Raja al-Karbouly, is accused of leading a 14-member terror cell that plotted to stop trucks with Jordanian license plates on Iraqi roads and kill their passengers. On Jordanian television last May, he confessed to killing Jordanian truck driver Khalid al-Dessouki. In his closing arguments Wednesday, the prosecutor requested the "most severe" penalty possible. A judicial official told The Associated Press that if al-Karbouly and his co-defendants are convicted they could face the death penalty by hanging. Al-Karbouly, in his May confession, said that he was coordinating the attacks with the slain Jordanian-born al-Qaida leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. All 14 defendants are Iraqis, but only al-Karbouly is in custody. The other 13 are believed to be in hiding in Iraq. Besides plotting attacks, all are charged with belonging to al-Qaida in Iraq and with possession of rockets. Following his arrest last year in Iraq, al-Karbouly was handed over to Jordan and first pleaded innocent to the charges against him. He subsequently confessed to killing a truck driver he considered an "apostate." In a hearing last November, the Iraqi defendant praised Osama Bin Laden and called Jordan's King Abdullah II an infidel. He told the court that he is "proud of being a member of al-Qaida and a soldier for Osama Bin Laden," adding that, "We in al-Qaida, will continue our holy war and our reward will be the dear virgins of heaven." The judge adjourned the trial until February 14 when the defense is expected to give its closing arguments.