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U.S.-Jordanian sentenced to death

AMMAN, Jordan (CNN) -- A Jordanian-American convicted of plotting terror attacks against American and Israeli tourists in Jordan during millennium celebrations has been sentenced to death.

A military court rendered the sentence on Monday on a range of charges against Raed Hijazi, 32, but dismissed a charge of belonging to an illegal organisation, which has been identified in court documents as al Qaeda.

He plans to appeal against the verdict to the military court soon.

Hijazi, who pleaded innocent, was charged with seven crimes, including possessing arms and explosives and conspiring to set off bombs at sites frequented by American and Israeli tourists. Hijazi was born in the United States and educated in California. Prosecutors say his planned targets included Mount Nebo, where tradition says Moses saw the Promised Land, and a Christian settlement along the Jordan River said to be where St. John the Baptist baptised Jesus.

"You are found guilty of conspiracy to carry out terrorist attacks in Jordan and your punishment is the death penalty," Judge Col. Tayel Raqad told Hijazi.

The Associated Press reported that Hijazi shouted, "Allahu Akbar! (God is great!)", and asked the judge, "Where is God's will? Why are you sentencing me to death? You are ruling against your people. (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon doesn't sentence his people to death."

Hijazi told the court his confession was extracted under duress and that he had no links to bin Laden.

He also denied plotting terrorist attacks, saying that contradicted Islamic teachings.

He said prosecutors told him during his interrogation last year that they had to prove a terror plot, which he interpreted to be part of Jordan's effort to get more aid from the United States.

Hijazi was tried in absentia along with five others, whom the military court sentenced to death in September 2000.

A month later, Hijazi was arrested in Syria and extradited to Jordan, where he was retried according to Jordanian law.





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