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The BBC's James Menendez
"One of Jordan's most high profile security trials produced a string of convictions"
 real 56k

Editor of Al Quds newspaper, Abdul Bari Atwan
"This could signal a significant change in bin Laden's priorities"
 real 28k

Monday, 18 September, 2000, 19:08 GMT 20:08 UK
Jordan militants sentenced to death
Relatives in Amman
Relatives of the accused were in court
A military court in Jordan has sentenced six men to death for plotting attacks against Israelis and US targets.

Four of the defendants were sentenced in their absence; two others had death sentences commuted to life imprisonment.

The men, who were among a group of 28 who went on trial in April on charges which also included possessing weapons and explosives, were, however, cleared of belonging to an illegal organisation linked to the Saudi militant, Osama bin Laden.

Prosecutors said the group had planned to bomb tourist and pilgrimage sites.

Defence lawyers called the sentences harsh and unfair, and are appealing against the verdicts.

Six other defendants in the case were acquitted while the rest received jail terms of up to 15 years. Only 16 of the 28 - who are mostly of Palestinian origin - are in custody.

Millennium plan

The Jordanian authorities broke up the cell last December, saying it was intending to strike against US and Israeli tourists during the millennium celebrations.

The accused denied the charges and links to bin Laden and claimed their confessions were obtained under duress.

The prosecution said those convicted had been smuggling weapons into Jordan from surrounding countries for the past four years.

According to security sources in Jordan, the cell had targeted a hotel in Amman and archaeological sites at Mount Nebo and in the Jordan Valley, but no attacks were actually carried out.

On Monday, the USA today newspaper reported that Jordan has given the US government copies of a computerised training manual, issued by bin Laden in Afghanistan.

The paper says the discs show how to make bombs and were seized from one of those on trial in Jordan.

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See also:

20 Apr 00 | Middle East
Suspected militants on trial in Jordan
17 Feb 00 | Middle East
Jordanian suspects linked to bin Laden
16 Dec 99 | Middle East
Jordan 'militants' linked to UK
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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