updated 1/9/2005 7:52:28 PM ET 2005-01-10T00:52:28

Jordan charged 16 Islamic militants on Sunday with plotting terror attacks, including strikes against the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Amman.

The suspected cell members were detained between August and September, but details about the allegations against them, surfaced only after they were charged at the office of Jordan’s military prosecutor. One of the suspects remains at large.

The men, led by 50-year-old Jordanian Abed al-Tahawi, were charged with conspiring to carry out the attacks and illegal possession of automatic weapons, a court official said.

A military prosecutor accused the defendants of plotting attacks against the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Amman and a hotel housing Israeli tourists in Irbid, some 55 miles north of the capital.

They also allegedly planned attacks on the home of the director of the Jerash Festival of Culture and Arts and on Americans performing in festival, some 20 miles north of Amman.

No details were available on how the men were arrested or how the plots were foiled.

According to the charge sheet, al-Tahawi had recruited his accomplices while preaching in mosques in Irbid before instructing them to carry out the planned attacks.

Last week, military prosecutors charged two Jordanians with a foiled plot to kill four American archaeologists working in the town of Hartha, near Irbid.

They also charged another four men with plotting to attack security officials, foreign and Israeli tourists and illegal possession of an automatic weapon.

Jordan, a key U.S. ally and peace partner to Israel, has been targeted by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida and other terrorists. Twenty-two Islamic militants, including al-Zarqawi, were convicted of plotting to attack U.S. and Israeli tourists during the kingdom’s millennium celebrations.

Al-Zarqawi is believed to be directing anti-U.S. attacks and kidnappings in Iraq, and his group has beheaded several hostages. He has been sentenced to death for the 2002 killing of U.S. aid worker Laurence Foley in Jordan.

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