Jordan executes two militants for slaying of U.S. diplomat
AMMAN, Jordan – Two men convicted of killing a U.S. aid official were hanged before dawn Saturday in Jordan’s first execution of al-Qaida-linked militants.Libyan Salem bin Suweid and Jordanian Yasser Freihat were executed for the 2002 killing of Laurence Foley, a 60-year-old administrator with the U.S. Agency for International Development who was gunned down outside his Amman home. The murder plot was blamed on al-Qaida in Iraq chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.Bin Suweid was charged with shooting Foley, and Freihat was found guilty of driving the getaway car.Jordan, a U.S. ally and the target of al-Qaida plots including hotel bombings that killed 60 people last year, has sentenced scores of militants to death in recent years, but executions have so far been carried out only against Islamists not linked to al-Qaida or other known terrorist groups.About 2,000 people protested the hangings in the village of Al Yamoun in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Freihat’s family is from.Freihat’s father is a colonel in the Palestinian security forces. Yasser Freihat lived in the West Bank for a year before returning to Jordan.Militants from Islamic Jihad and Fatah set fire to photos of Jordan’s King Abdullah II and chanted, “Death to USA, death to Israel, death to the betrayer Abdullah.”They announced that the family would accept condolences on Sunday.Bin Suweid and Freihat were part of an 11-member cell headed by al-Zarqawi. A Jordanian military court found 10 of the cell members, including al-Zarqawi, guilty in July 2004 of a terror conspiracy that led to Foley’s killing.One defendant was acquitted for lack of evidence.Two were sentenced to six years in prison and are currently serving their terms. A third, who was convicted and sentenced to death in absentia, was captured by U.S. forces in Iraq and extradited to Jordan, where he is being retried for Foley’s murder and another terror case.Jordanian law requires the death penalty for people who commit crimes that lead to the deaths of innocent civilians.Moussa Kilani, a Jordanian political analyst, said the hangings showed that Jordan “doesn’t want its territory to be a playground for terrorists.”He said they sent the message that “Jordanian society, as tolerant as it can be, is very strict regarding the rash wanton murder of innocent civilians.”
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