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Jordan Indicts 15 Suspected Islamic Terrorists - 2003-09-13

Jordan says it has indicted 15 suspected Islamic terrorists accused of conspiring to attack U.S. and Israeli interests. The announcement comes as King Abdullah prepares to travel to the United States for talks with President Bush on terrorism, Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Jordan's military prosecutor says the 15 men indicted in the case have suspected ties to the al-Qaida and Ansar al-Islam terrorist groups.

The prosecutor, Col. Mahmoud Obeidat says only one of the suspects is in Jordanian custody. He is identified as Ahmad Mahmoud Saleh al-Riyati, a 34-year-old Jordanian, detained by U.S. troops in northern Iraq in April.

The others charged include 12 Jordanians and two Iraqis. Authorities say they could be tried in absentia, but no trial date has been set.

The indictment, published in Amman newspapers Saturday, says the suspects are linked to an alleged plot to attack U.S. and Israeli interests in Jordan, as well as Western tourists and senior Jordanian security officials.

Reacting to news of the indictments, a U.S. Embassy spokesman said it was another sign of what he called "the extraordinary cooperation" between Jordan and the United States on counter-terrorist operations.

The announcement came as Jordan's King Abdullah prepared to leave Sunday for a five-day visit to the United States and talks with President Bush next Thursday and Friday.

They plan to discuss the Middle East peace process, Iraq and terrorism.

The king says his main priority will be to seek President Bush's support for the new Palestinian government.

Despite the generally good relations between Jordan and the United States, King Abdullah has said that Jordan is not ready to send troops to neighboring Iraq to help the U.S.-led military coalition fight the continuing violence there.