Lawyer of Suspected Terrorist Denies Client’s Link with Cole Bombing
By Jihad Abu Falah
Albawaba.com - Amman
Lawyer for Raed Hijzi, who was sentenced to death in absentia by the Jordanian authorities for charges of plotting to carry out terrorist attacks in Amman, denied media reports that his client was involved in the October 12 bombing of the US destroyer Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden, which left 17 US sailors dead and 39 wounded.
Jalal Darwish told Albawaba.com that Hijazi has been held in a Jordanian jail since November after he was extradited by the Syrian authorities.
Hijazi was sentenced in absentia to death by Jordan's security court for belonging to an illegal group 'the Base' and plotting to carry out terrorist attacks on Israeli and US targets in the capital Amman.
The group is believed to be organized by Saudi dissident Osama Bin Laden who is wanted by the US for his alleged role in masterminding the 1998 bombings of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people.
Darwish said there will be a retrial of his client, charging that the confession Hijazi made were extracted under torture.
"He has been tortured and held in solitary confinement, and they threatened him against revealing his location [to his family] unless he confessed that he committed the alleged crime,” the lawyer said.
In the meantime, the lawyer denied a report saying that an official from the US embassy visited his client.
AFP had reported that the official visited Hijazi, but refused to provide any further information about the man or the circumstances surrounding his arrest, saying: "He has a right to privacy which he has not waived."
The comments followed an NBC News report earlier Monday, which said Hijazi was a prime suspect in the Cole bomb blast.
Hijazi "personally trained and supported" those responsible for the Cole attack, the network reported, citing US government sources.
However, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which has dozens of agents on the ground in Yemen looking into the bombing, refused to publicly link Hijazi to the attack on the Cole, according to AFP.
"We checked with the people in our Counter-terrorism Division as to whether there are any developments with regard to the case," FBI spokesman Bill Carter told AFP. "They indicated that no, they were unaware of any arrests or developments with regard to the case."
He said he could not comment on the progress in the Cole investigation because it was an ongoing probe.
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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