AMMAN, Jordan – Prosecutors leveled charges against two suspected Jordanian terrorists after police foiled a plan to kill four American archeologists, security officials said Wednesday.
Jamil Mohammed Kutkut, 27, and Ibrahim Mohammed Zein al-Abedeen, better known by Jihad al-Qashah, 36, were charged with plotting to commit terrorist acts, illegal possession of automatic weapons and infiltrating Jordanian territories.
Prosecutors issued the charges recently, but it was unclear when.
No details were available on the American targets of the plot, which police say they foiled when they arrested Kutkut on Oct. 17. Al-Abedeen allegedly fled to Syria.
Officials suspect both men of belonging to Kata’eb al-Tawhid, Arabic for “Battalions of Monotheism,” a Jordanian terror group headed by Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi and linked to al-Qaida.
Al-Zarqawi, 38, also heads the al-Qaida in Iraq group and is wanted for involvement in numerous attacks against U.S. and Iraqi security forces.
A charge sheet drawn up by Jordanian prosecutors alleges al-Abedeen approached Kutkut to carry a military attack against four Americans archaeologists working in the town of Hartha, near Irbid, 55 miles north of the capital, Amman.
Kutkut allegedly accepted the mission, cased the area and a school where the archaeologists lived, and gave al-Abedeen a Kalashnikov automatic weapon with ammunition.
But al-Abedeen allegedly fled to Syria because Jordanian officials want him in connection with another foiled plot, this one involving al-Zarqawi and 10 other terror suspects to carry out chemical and conventional attacks in Jordan, the charge sheet said.
It was unclear when al-Abedeen went to Syria or when the trial against him and Kutkut would begin. If convicted, both face the death penalty.
Jordan’s military prosecutor has charged another four men with plotting to attack security officials, along with foreign and Israeli tourists, in Jordan, and illegal possession of an automatic weapon.
Police arrested Suleiman Sheikh-Ali, 28, and his cousin Omar Sheikh-Ali, 26, Riyad Abu-Duheileh, 29, and Ahmad Abu-Qatmeh, 51, in August and September. No further details were available, including when they will face trial.
Jordan is a key Arab ally of the United States and a peace partner to Israel, and has been targeted by al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida and other terrorists. Twenty-two Islamic militants, including al-Zarqawi, were convicted of plotting to attack U.S. and Israeli tourists during the kingdom’s millennium celebrations.
Al-Zarqawi is believed to be directing anti-U.S. attacks and kidnappings in Iraq, and his group has beheaded several hostages. He has been sentenced to death for the 2002 killing of U.S. aid worker Laurence Foley in Jordan.