Five suspects on trial for 2016 bombing targeting army in Jordan’s Rukban plead not guilty

Published March 16th, 2017 - 03:00 GMT
Syrian refugees are seen stranded at the Jordanian border. (AFP/Khalil Mazraawi)
Syrian refugees are seen stranded at the Jordanian border. (AFP/Khalil Mazraawi)

The five men on trial for assisting a suicide bomber who blew himself up at a border forward post in June, who were reported to be of Syrian nationality, entered a not-guilty plea as their trial started on Wednesday the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported. 

They appeared before the State Security Court  (SSC) on Wednesday, facing charges of committing "terrorist acts" using explosives that led to the death of human beings and demolished buildings, possessing automated weapons, importing narcotics to sell and entering the Kingdom illegally. 

In June 2016, a car bomb attack on an army post near Rakban refugee camp killed seven Jordanian soldiers, prompting the immediate closure of the Kingdom’s northern and northeastern borders, which remained closed ever since. 

They were arrested on the border by a security unit affiliated with the army, authorities have revealed, adding that the suspects were affiliated with Daesh.   

The defendants were identified as Najm Omour, Ahmad Al Bdour, Fadi Omour, Khleif Ghayyath and Ahmad Al Ali. The defendants denied the charges at a public hearing, and the SSC adjourned the hearing until Sunday, March 19, to allow witness testimony to be heard. 

As they could not afford a lawyer and since the conviction would lead to a death sentence or life in prison, they were entitled to a lawyer under the law. The SSC named Bashir Oqeily to represent them. 

Also on Wednesday, the SSC sentenced a number of convicts to prison for terrorism-related charges in two separate cases, Petra reported, including two Yemenis and five other defendants of unidentified nationality. 

In the case of the two Yemeni citizens, Abduljalil Sharahi was sentenced to 15 years in prison for committing "terrorist acts," while Abdulmalek Hussein was sentenced to one year in prison for failing to report information related to extremist activity. 

Sharahi was fighting with Al Qaeda in Yemen, where he attended workshops on weapons and explosives making, before joining Daesh, Petra reported, adding that he was injured while fighting for Daesh in Yemen. 

When Sharahi recovered, he enlisted in an “assassination battalion” affiliated with Daesh, which receives orders from senior members of the organization, according to the court documents. He is reported to have carried out several assassinations before enrolling in the Syrian branch of Daesh, the reason for which Sharahi and Hussein decided to come to Jordan.

The two defendants lived in Marka area and contacted Daesh members through specific  websites. As they planned to travel to Turkey and then to Syria from there, they were informed of the tight security measures surrounding the Syrian territory. 

They were then instructed to carry out attacks in Jordan, targeting foreign tourists, specifically Americans and Russians, as well as photographing police stations  and gathering intelligence about their units, officers and weapons.

They were also required to kidnap Jordanian soldiers in order to kill them and film the executions. 

At the time, Sharahi asked Daesh for money and additional manpower to carry out the operations, but the organization requested from him to wait. It was at that time that Sharahi informed Hussein of the operations, but Hussein refused to get involved. However, he failed to notify the authorities, the tribunal found.  

Sharahi was later ordered to build an explosive belt suitable for a suicide attack, using his Yemeni training skills. 

After the belt was ready, he was given further details about the planned Jordanian operation; he was informed he would be called and given information about the target, which remained secret, the SSC explained, according to Petra.

Sharahi collected the materials needed for the belt, buying a belt used by pilgrims performing umrah or Hajj (to keep their belongings), as well as fertilizers. 

He was at that time put under surveillance by the authorities, who tracked and arrested him in August 2015. 

Also on Wednesday, the court sentenced five Daesh members to seven and eight years of imprisonment on charges of terrorist acts and promoting terrorist ideology. 

All defendants, who were not named in Petra’s report, were charged with promoting terrorist ideology, attempting to join terrorist organizations, with one of them charged with promoting and financially supporting terrorist organizations. 

Editor's note: This article has been edited from the source material.

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