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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 April, 2004, 18:06 GMT 19:06 UK
Jordan militants sentenced to die
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
Zarqawi was the alleged mastermind behind the killing
A court in Jordan has sentenced eight Islamic militants to death - including al-Qaeda suspect Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - for killing a US government official.

Jordanian-born Zarqawi, thought to be a close associate of Osama Bin Laden, was sentenced in absentia for the killing of Laurence Foley in the capital Amman.

Mr Foley, of the US Agency for International Development, was shot dead in the city in October 2002.

Zarqawi was accused by the Jordanian government of masterminding the attack.

Meanwhile, the United States has said its embassy in Amman was among the intended targets of a group of militants arrested last week by the Jordanian authorities near the Syrian border.

A message from the embassy quoted by Reuters said the Jordanian government had "taken steps against a terrorist cell which had targeted several government of Jordan facilities".

"Subsequent information indicates that the American embassy in Amman also was a target," it said.


The shooting of Mr Foley outside his home was the first killing of a Western diplomat in the city.

He was shot several times in the chest and head as he walked towards his car.

Among those sentenced to death by the military court were Libyan Salem Saad bin Suweid and Jordanian Yasser Freihat, who were arrested in December 2002 and accused of carrying out the actual shooting.

They had told the court they were innocent and had been forced to confess to the crime.

The other six were sentenced to death in absentia, including Zarqawi.

Two other defendants, Mohammed Damas and Mohammed Amin, who had also pleaded not guilty, were sentenced to 15 years and six years in jail respectively.

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