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Jordanian-American Convicted for Planning Poison Gas Attacks - 2003-01-05

A Jordanian military court has upheld a guilty verdict and death sentence for a Jordanian-American man convicted of planning to carry out poison gas attacks on American and Israeli targets in Jordan three years ago.

Military prosecutors in Amman said 33-year-old Raed Hijazi planned with two others to attack sites in Jordan. The sites included Mount Nebo, where biblical tradition said Moses saw the promised land, and a settlement where John the Baptist is said have baptized Jesus Christ.

Hijazi, who carries Jordanian and American passports, says he is innocent of the charges, including conspiring to blow up sites visited by American and Israeli tourists during New Year 2000 celebrations.

Two months ago a Jordanian appeals court ordered a retrial, saying there was insufficient evidence to convict Hijazi of possessing weapons and manufacturing explosives. That verdict was overturned on Sunday.

In an earlier verdict this year, the military court dismissed charges that Hijazi belonged to an illegal organization, identified by the prosecution as the al-Qaida terrorist group.

Hijazi was arrested in Syria in October 2000 and extradited to Jordan to face trial. His lawyers argue he was forced to testify under torture, and maintain his is innocence. They call the verdict politically motivated and allege Jordan is trying to prove to the United States that it is combating terrorism.