AMMAN, 21 September 2006 — An alleged Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq yesterday pleaded “innocent” to charges of terrorism before Jordan’s State Security Court (SSC), judicial sources said. Ziyad Khalaf Karbouli, an Iraqi, told the tribunal that he was “innocent,” the sources said. According to the indictment sheet, Karbouli and 13 others who are still at large are accused of “carrying out acts of terrorism that led to the death of a human being, the possession of explosives for illegal use and belonging to an illegal group.”
They allegedly formed part of the Jihad and Tawhid Brigades, formerly led by the Jordan-born arch terrorist Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a US airstrike inside Iraq on June 7. Karbouli, 23, appeared on the state-run Jordan television shortly after his arrest in May and confessed to have killed a Jordanian truck driver in September last year and abducted two Moroccan diplomats while on their way from Amman to Baghdad.
The Jordanian authorities then described Karbouli as a “leading Al-Qaeda operative” who worked as a customs official on the Iraqi side of the border. In a previous hearing the SSC appointed a lawyer for Karbouli after he said he did not have money to recruit and attorney. He also disputed the prosecution’s version that he was captured inside Iraq in a joint operation of the Jordanian army and intelligence on May 10. He instead told the tribunal that he was kidnapped “from Lebanon on May 6.”
Meanwhile, Jordanian newspapers reacted angrily yesterday to allegations by Human Rights Watch of arbitrary arrests and torture in Jordan, saying the report was a political campaign to discredit the country. Newspapers said intelligence services targeted in the US-based rights watchdog’s report were dealing within the rules of law to protect Jordan from terrorism and Islamists prone to violence.
“Once again Human Rights Watch has published inaccurate, unconvincing and inflammatory reports about Jordan, about claims of torture and human rights abuses,” the government daily Al Rai said. “These reports are raising many questions about the suspicious goals (of HRW) ... (which) no one can consider as innocent, for they fall within a political agenda,” it said in a front-page editorial.
The General Intelligence Department (GID) plays a key role “within the rules of law” in protecting Jordan “against terrorists and Islamic fundamentalists,” Al Rai said.
—Additional input from agencies