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The BBC's Barbara Plett reports
"The Jordanian news agency says the suspects have confessed to the charges"
 real 28k

Thursday, 17 February, 2000, 19:24 GMT
Jordanian suspects linked to bin Laden

Osama bin Laden Osama bin Laden is the US's most wanted man


Fourteen people suspected of being supporters of exiled Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, are to go on trial in the Jordanian capital Amman, according to the Petra news agency.

The 14 were arrested last December on suspicion of planning to carry out attacks on Jordanian tourist sites during the millennium celebrations.

Mr bin Laden, who is wanted for involvement in the bombing of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, is believed to be in hiding in Afghanistan.

The United States maintains that he is the head of an international terrorist network dedicated to attacking the interests of the US and its allies around the world.

Affiliations

Thursday's announcement by the Jordanian news agency is the first official mention in Jordan of a direct link between the suspects and Mr bin Laden.

US officials have made the link in the past.

Twelve of the 14 suspects are Jordanian, one is Iraqi and another Algerian. The investigation by the Jordanian authorities has thrown up another 14 suspects, who are still at large and will be tried in absentia.

'Plots'

The men are charged with conspiracy to launch terrorist attacks, possession of weapons and explosives, membership of an illegal group and forging official documents.

Bin Laden on reward matchbox The US consulate in Peshawar is offering a reward for information on Mr bin Laden
The group was apparently targeting at least one large tourist hotel and archaeological sites over the millennium. One of the targets is reported to have been the spot on the river Jordan where Jesus is believed to have been baptised.

No attacks were actually carried out, but Petra says the men have confessed to the charges.

The suspects will probably face a state security court next month.

The suspects include men who fought against the Russians in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Some have been jailed in Jordan before on terrorism charges.

The group's alleged leader is a Jordanian with American citizenship named Khalil Deek. He was extradited to Jordan from Pakistan and is expected to be tried separately.

All the suspects could face the death penalty if convicted.

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See also:
16 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Bin Laden reward on matchbox
24 Dec 99 |  Americas
Analysis: US faces up to terror threat
06 Aug 99 |  South Asia
Osama bin Laden: America's most wanted
21 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Osama bin Laden 'cut off'

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