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AMMAN, Jordan -- A Jordanian military court on Wednesday acquitted radical Muslim preacher Abu Qatada on terrorism charges for his role in plotting attacks against Americans and Israelis. The ruling capped a lengthy legal odyssey for the cleric known for his fiery pro-al-Qaeda speeches but who in recent months emerged as a harsh critic of ISIS.
Described as a onetime lieutenant to Osama bin Laden, Abu Qatada was charged with involvement in plans to target Israeli and American tourists and Western diplomats in Jordan in 2000 — the so-called "millennium plot." Separately, the 53-year-old preacher was acquitted in June in another case, a foiled 1999 plan to attack an American school in Amman. The West Bank-born Abu Qatada arrived in Britain on a forged passport in 1993. He was granted asylum a year later, but eventually wore out his welcome because of his suspected militant activities. He had been convicted in absentia and sentenced to life in prison on both Jordanian charges. But on his extradition to Jordan last July, those sentences were suspended and he was ordered to stand a new trial. Abu Qatada's real name is Omar Mahmoud Mohammed Othman.