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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05AMMAN470 2005-01-19 15:50:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Amman
Cable title:  

SUSPECTS IN 2002 MA'AN RIOTS FINALLY HAVE THEIR

Tags:   ASEC PGOV PTER JO KHMN 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

191550Z Jan 05
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L AMMAN 000470 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/19/2015
TAGS: ASEC PGOV PTER JO KHMN
SUBJECT: SUSPECTS IN 2002 MA'AN RIOTS FINALLY HAVE THEIR
DAY IN COURT

REF: A. 04 AMMAN 10304


B. 04 AMMAN 05476

Classified By: CDA David Hale for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)



1. (U) More than two years after riots shook the restive
southern town of Ma'an, the State Security Court in January
finally opened the trial of 108 individuals suspected of
involvement. The violence in November 2002 left six people
dead, including two police officers, and resulted in
criticism that the government mishandled the situation. Only
13 people appeared in court on January 9, and all pleaded
innocent to the charges. The remaining 95 suspects will be
tried in absentia. Chief among the defendants is local
extremist Mohammad al-Shalabi (aka Abu Sayyaf), who was
sentenced on December 27 to 15 years in jail on weapons
charges related to a separate alleged terrorist plot (ref A).



2. (U) The charge sheet is long. The group is accused of
carrying out terrorist acts that led to the death of an
individual, possessing automatic weapons with illicit intent,
plotting subversive acts by using flammable substances, and
illegal public assembly with the intent of causing riots.
They also were charged with importing weapons, including hand
grenades and rocket launchers, and possessing unlicensed
guns.



3. (C) The trial so far has been marked by unusual levels
of acrimony. The prosecution introduced several witnesses,
including a Ma'an-based security official who testified that
he found weapons and machine guns at the home of one of the
defendants. Officers also testified that anonymous
individuals had thrown Molotov cocktails and fired at them
while on duty in Ma'an, resulting in injuries. In contrast
to the defendants' allegations that they were forced to sign
confessions while blindfolded, security witnesses told the
court that the suspects confessed willingly, "without being
subjected to any form of torture or duress." A session on
January 17 was interrupted at least twice by defendants who
cursed the judge and prosecutor, and screamed at witnesses,
calling them "liars" and "traitors." In one instance, one
defendant threatened revenge against a police officer for his
"lies." A reporter who was present told poloff that the
judge had to adjourn the hearing at one point for nearly an
hour until order was restored. At the end of the two-hour
session, the judge adjourned until January 31, when the court
will reconvene to hear more testimony from prosecution
witnesses.



4. (C) Comment: Ma'an's economy is underdeveloped; tribal
power there is still significant; Saudi influence is strong;
and Salafi (and even Takfiri) tendencies widespread (ref B).
Long a center of opposition to the government, Ma'an has
repeatedly witnessed unrest over bread and gasoline price
increases over the past 20 years. The GOJ probably delayed
this trial in the hope that sympathy for the Ma'an rioters
would dissipate, and memories of the suppression of the
uprising would fate. Heightened concerns about terrorist
threats in Jordan (and fear of regime retaliation) may
mitigate against popular expressions of sympathy for the
Ma'an rioters. However, the animosity will continue to play
out in the courtroom as the GOJ makes an example of the Ma'an
troublemakers.



5. (U) Baghdad minimize considered.

Please visit Embassy Amman's classified web site at
http://www.state.sgov/p/nea/amman/ or access the site through
the Department of State's SIPRNET home page.
HALE