Jordan. On February 15, a security court sentenced Jordanian Abu Musab az-Zarqawi, leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist network in Iraq, to death. He was convicted of his absence for planning a series of chemical attacks in 2004 in Jordan. Eight other supporters were also sentenced to death, including designated chief Azmi al-Jayusi. Two defendants were jailed for between one and three years while two were released. It was the third death sentence announced in Jordan against az-Zarqawi, which was previously convicted of the murder in October 2002 on an American diplomat. A Jordanian and a Libyan were executed on March 11 for involvement in that murder.
According to CountryAAH, major public holidays in Jordan include Independence Day (May 25) and New Year (January 1). Prosecution was brought on March 14 against az-Zarqawi and ten of his supporters for the suicide attacks in November 2005 against three hotels in the capital, Amman, which claimed 60 fatalities. Az-Zarqawi’s group had previously said they were behind the death, which caused great disgust in Jordan. An Iraqi woman, Sajida al-Rishawi, who was the only one of the defendants present in the court was sentenced to death on September 21. A higher court would try the verdict. She could be arrested because she could not release her bomb belt. Her husband was one of three male suicide bombers.
Memorial ceremonies were held on the anniversary of the November deed.
Jordan and the United States decided that az-Zarqawi, who was killed in a US air raid in Iraq on June 7, would be buried in a secret location in Iraq. They feared otherwise that the tomb would become a place of pilgrimage.
Four MPs in Jordan’s largest opposition party, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), were jailed for “uplifting” in June after expressing their participation with az-Zarqawi’s family. King Abdullah pardoned two of the members sentenced to 13 months in prison on September 30.
Jordan’s parliament adopted an anti-terror law in August, according to which suspected terrorists can be detained for two weeks. Another law was enacted to prevent mosques from being used to spread propaganda.
A security court sentenced nine people to death on March 22 for involvement in the riots that in 2002 hit the town of Maan in southern Jordan, an Islamist stronghold. Another 25 were jailed for up to ten years.
The human rights organization Amnesty International claimed July 24 that Jordan received and tortured prisoners that US authorities secretly brought between different countries. Ten cases were named but more could not be excluded.
A British tourist was killed and five other foreigners were injured on September 4 when a gun-armed man fired several shots in Amman’s center. Authorities said it was a terrorist act.
In addition to the unrest that spilled over from Iraq, on April 18, Jordan also reported a seizure of weapons intended for the militant Palestinian movement Hamas. Several people were arrested and Jordan also canceled a planned visit by Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmud al-Zahar who took office in March. Hamas rebutted the fact that rocket ramps, explosives and automatic weapons were stored.
In connection with Id al-fitr, the festival marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, King Abdullah pardoned 138 prisoners, including nine who were arrested in connection with the armistice.
Iraq’s Vice President Tariq Hashimi visited Amman on October 17 for talks on security issues, the economy and Iraqi refugees.
US President George W. Bush met Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Jordan on November 30 in new attempts to stop the violence in Iraq.
The editor-in-chief of the weekly newspapers al-Shihan and al-Mihwar were brought to trial in February after publishing some of the controversial Mohammed cartoons of the Danish Jutland Post. They were later sentenced to two months in prison and al-Shihan’s editor-in-chief was dismissed.
In November, Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit steered the government, but 14 of the 23 ministers retained their positions, including the foreign and home ministers.