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Jordan upholds guilty verdict on terror plotters

/ Source: The Associated Press

Jordan's military court upheld its guilty verdict Wednesday for 10 militants convicted in a foiled terror conspiracy that targeted Americans and Israelis in the kingdom during millennium celebrations.

The verdict comes a year after the Appeals Court asked military judges to re-examine their previous verdict issued in September 2000 on the basis that the terror conspiracy may have been dismissed under a general amnesty issued by Jordan's King Abdullah II in March 1999.

In their verdict four years ago, military judges said the terror conspiracy was hatched as early as 1996, but that final and decisive planning took place late in late 1999. The terror plot was uncovered and foiled in November that year.

Col. Fawaz Buqour, the military court's presiding judge, said Wednesday that the court was "upholding the guilty verdict because the acts of the defendants persisted from 1996 until the case was uncovered."

Wednesday's guilty verdict can be appealed again.

The 10 who appealed are among 28 people who were charged with 12 crimes, including conspiracy to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli and American tourists, affiliation with an unspecified banned organization and illegal possession of arms and explosives.

The indictment said the plotters had been collecting explosive material since 1996 from various Arab countries, including Syria and Iraq. Many of the suspects had received military training in camps in Syria, Lebanon and Afghanistan.

The sites they had planned to target included Mount Nebo, where tradition says Moses saw the promised land, and a Christian settlement along the Jordan River said to be the site where Saint John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ.

The defendants, all of whom pleaded innocent, claimed they had confessed under duress. But in the trial four years ago, they were convicted and the military court handed down sentences ranging from death by hanging to 7 1/2 years in jail for 22 men, including the 10 in detention who are appealing the verdict.

The remaining six were acquitted.