Tags: Al-Qaida | ISIS/Islamic State | Middle East | War on Terrorism | acquitted | Jordan | Abu Qatada

Jordanian Court Acquits Terror Suspect Linked to Bin Laden

By    |   Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 07:15 PM

A radical preacher once described as Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe was acquitted Wednesday in a Jordanian court of terrorism charges and freed from prison.

The court in Amman ruled there wasn't sufficient evidence against Abu Qatada, who was deported from Britain to Jordan last year after years of fighting extradition.

A spokesman for Britain's Home Office told the Guardian newspaper that Abu Qatada, whose real name is Omar Mahmoud Mohammed Othman, will not be allowed back into the United Kingdom.

The 53-year-old West Bank-born cleric, famous for his pro-al-Qaida speeches, shocked his radical followers recently by calling the Islamic State's beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley un-Islamic, the Guardian reports.

"Messengers should not be killed," he said from his courtroom cell, the newspaper said.

At the court trial, the judge read the charges against the cleric, as well as evidence brought against him, and then dismissed them.

"The accused is found innocent," he announced, and the cleric's relatives began cheering, the Guardian reports.

"Justice took place today," said one of his attorneys, Ghazi Althunibat." The decision is aligned with Jordanian law and the U.K. treaty. He is innocent and he deserved to be declared innocent."

He added: "He is against Daesh [the Arabic term for Islamic State] and everything they do. He believes their actions are against Islam."

"We are very happy. We expected this," one of the cleric's sons told the Guardian.

The case was tried in Jordan's State Security Court, but with civilian judges.

Abu Qatada was charged with involvement in plans to target Israeli and U.S. tourists and Western diplomats in Jordan in 2000 in a so-called "millennium plot."

Separately, he was acquitted in June in another case, a foiled 1999 plan to attack a U.S. school in Amman.

He'd pleaded not guilty to both sets of charges.

Abu Qatada fled a Jordanian crackdown on militants, arriving in Britain on a forged passport in 1993. He was granted asylum a year later, but came under fire for his suspected militant activities.

He had been convicted in absentia and sentenced to life in prison on both Jordanian charges. But on his extradition to Jordan last July, those sentences were suspended and he was ordered to stand a new trial.

But it was his comments on the Islamic State's insurgence that brought him back into the headlines, reflecting the rivalry between al-Qaida and ISIS.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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A radical preacher once described as Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe was acquitted Wednesday in a Jordanian court of terrorism charges and freed from prison.
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2014-15-24
Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 07:15 PM
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