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Jordan To Try Seven Citizens

October 13, 1997

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) _ A Jordanian military court will soon try four citizens charged with plotting attacks against Israel and three others suspected of smuggling arms to the West Bank, a prosecutor said Monday.

Col. Mahmoud Obeidat said two separate trials will be held later this month to try the seven Jordanians. He did not give a date.

The trials demonstrate Jordan’s commitment to a 1994 peace treaty with Israel _ even after Israel betrayed that friendship by mounting a secret operation last month to assassinate a Muslim militant leader in Amman.

The target, Khalid Mashaal of the Palestinian Hamas movement, survived the Sept. 25 attempt. The Israeli attackers were caught, plunging Israeli-Jordan relations to their lowest point ever.

Obeidat said the four who ``plotted to undermine Jordan’s security ... and its peace treaty″ were affiliated with a secret Muslim group, Bayaat al-Imam. If convicted, they face up to 15 years of hard labor in prison.

A Jordanian newspaper, Ad-Dustour, said the four were plotting an attack against Israel across the southern Wadi Araba desert next January, but the plan was foiled by a tip, which led to their arrest in July.

Police seized an unspecified number of hand grenades, Russian-made Kalashnikov rifles and ammunition, it said.

The newspaper identified the men as Saoud Mohammed, 24, Issa Mohammed, 21, Mujahed Mohammed, 29, and Abdul-Rahim Yousef, 25.

In the second case, only one suspect, Ismat Shukri, was arrested two months ago. The other suspects _ Ali Abdul-Karim and Mohammed Mubarak _ remain at large and will be tried in absentia, Obeidat said.

Other judicial sources said the three were believed to be associated with Palestinian militant factions based in Syria and Lebanon. They face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

In July, a military court sentenced a Jordanian army soldier to life imprisonment for gunning down seven Israeli schoolgirls on a holiday March 13 in Jordan.

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