Jordan sentences 12 for terror plot

The group conspired to attack US and Israeli embassies in Amman.

Jordan sentenced 12 Islamic terrorists Sunday to prison terms ranging from one year to 3 years for a terror conspiracy targeting the US and Israeli embassies in this Arab kingdom. Prosecutors accused the defendants of planning attacks on the embassies, located in the Jordanian capital, Amman, plus a hotel popular with Israeli tourists in the northern city of Irbid. The 12 defendants, who entered no pleas, were also accused of planning to attack the home of a cultural festival director as well as an American troupe performing at the annual event. The defendants were in court Sunday for the handing down of the guilty verdicts, which can be appealed. Another four defendants were acquitted for insufficient evidence. Evidence presented to the court did not say how or when the attacks were planned by the defendants, who were detained in August and September before carrying out their plots, the court heard. Group mastermind Abed Shihadeh al-Tahawi, 50, was accused of pursuing the fundamentalist ideology of "takfiri" - a policy of killing anybody considered to be an infidel. Court documents accused al-Tahawi of recruiting his accomplices while preaching in mosques in Irbid, 80 kilometers north of Amman. During the trial that opened in March, the defendants repeatedly praised Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born leader of al-Qaida in Iraq who is responsible for scores of deadly suicide attacks, beheadings and kidnappings. But the charge sheet did not directly link the defendants to al-Zarqawi or any other known terrorist group. Jordan has been battling Islamic extremists for several years and regularly sentences militants either at large or in custody to heavy prison sentences