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Thursday, 16 December, 1999, 14:41 GMT
Jordan 'militants' linked to UK

A poster of Osama bin Laden on sale in Pakistan

A group of alleged militants arrested in Jordan last week was funded by a UK-based aide to Saudi militant Osama bin Laden, a senior Jordanian official has said.

"The ring that was smashed was funded in particular by Omar Abu Omar, also known as Abu Kutada, who is a right-hand man of Osama bin Laden," the official told AFP news agency.

"He is a Jordanian, who entered Britain on a false passport, and has since obtained political asylum there," the official said.

The official, who asked not to be named, said Omar Abu Omar had been sentenced in his absence over a series of explosions in Jordan.

Taleban anger

The Jordanian authorities announced on Wednesday they had arrested 13 members of a "terrorist group" - 11 Jordanians, an Iraqi and an Algerian.

Jordan should be very careful what it says
Taleban foreign minister
Prime Minister Abdul Ra'uf Rawabdeh said the group had received military training in camps in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan's Taleban movement on Thursday angrily denied training any militants linked to Mr Bin Laden. However it said the suspects may have been trained during the fight to end the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

"Everyone including Jordan should be very careful and responsible about what they say ... our government did not give military training to any of them," Taleban Foreign Minister Wakeel Ahmed Mutawak told the Afghan Islamic Press.

Leader named

The Jordanian official named the leader of the group as Khader Abu Ghoshar and said he set up a group called Jaish Mohammed (Mohammed's army) with veterans of the Afghan conflict.

Three other members are reported to be on the run outside Jordan. The official said Jordan had asked Pakistan to extradite Khalil al-Dick, a Jordanian linked to the group.

The Jordanian prime minister said the 13 had been arrested while surveying possible US and Israeli targets in the country.

Washington said the arrests had triggered its warning at the weekend of a worldwide threat against Americans.

Mr Bin Laden is reported to be living in Afghanistan under Taleban protection. He is wanted by the US in connection with the bombings of its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania last year.

Washington has warned the Taleban that it would be held responsible for any attacks found to be ordered by Mr Bin Laden. But the Taleban said the warnings of attacks were US "propaganda".

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See also:
15 Dec 99 |  Middle East
Jordan arrests 'Afghan-trained militants'
06 Aug 99 |  South Asia
Osama bin Laden: America's most wanted
15 Dec 99 |  Americas
US warns Taleban over 'terror threat'
12 Nov 99 |  Americas
FBI reorganises to combat terror
09 Oct 99 |  Africa
US embassy bombing suspect in court
14 Dec 99 |  Americas
'Terror threat' triggered US warning

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