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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ

Alleged Zarqawi Banker on Trial in Jordan Court

September 17, 2004|From Reuters

AMMAN, Jordan — U.S. ally Jordan put on trial Thursday a Muslim militant accused of having been recruited by suspected Al Qaeda associate Abu Musab Zarqawi to bankroll deadly attacks, including suicide bombings in Iraq.

Bilal Mansour Hiyari, 34, who comes from a prominent Jordanian tribe, faces two charges of conspiracy with "intent to engage in terrorist acts" and "financing and collecting donations for an illegal group."

The conspiracy charge alone carries the death sentence.

Hiyari pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Military prosecutor Lt. Col. Mahmoud Obeidat said Hiyari met with fellow Jordanian Zarqawi in July 2003 in Iraq.

After spending a month with Hiyari in Iraq, Zarqawi entrusted him with the task of collecting funds in the kingdom to finance a string of suicide bombings against U.S. and Iraqi army targets in Iraq, Obeidat said.

Western targets and government installations in Jordan were also part of the plot, he said.

Security sources said the case was the first major interception of secret channels of funding from militants in the kingdom to Zarqawi, believed to be in Iraq.

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