Jordan jails former Al-Qaeda aide for terrorism

AFP , Thursday 28 Jul 2011

Mentor to Al-Qaeda leader Al-Zarqawi, Issam Barqawi, aka Abu Mohammed Al-Maqdessi, is sentenced to five years for recruiting Jordanians to join the Taliban

A Jordanian military court on Thursday sentenced a former advisor to a top Al-Qaeda leader to five years in prison for recruiting people in Jordan to join the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Issam Barqawi, known as Abu Mohammed Al-Maqdessi, was charged with "recruiting people in the country to join Taliban in Afghanistan as well as terrorist organisations."

The charge included "collecting funds for terrorists groups to carry out acts that would harm Jordan and its ties with other countries."

Maqdessi was once a mentor to slain Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi before the two men fell out.

Following the verdict, Maqdessi shouted: "Islam is our religion. We are mujahedeen (holy warriors) and we will remain so."

"The ruling will not stop us and we will continue to fight the Americans with our brothers. We will not change even if we were sentenced to death," he said.

In 1992, Jordanian-born Zarqawi met Maqdessi and later joined his Sunni militant group Jaish Mohammed (Mohammed's Army).

The pair was detained in Jordan for five years for membership of an outlawed Islamist organisation but freed as part of a general amnesty in 1999.

The two later fell out over "ideological differences," and aides said Maqdessi repeatedly denounced Zarqawi, who was killed in an air strike northeast of Baghdad in 2006.

Maqdessi was arrested again in Jordan in 2005 after remarks he made to Al-Jazeera television, but was released in 2008 for "humanitarian reasons" after going on hunger strike.

One of his sons, Omar, was killed in clashes with US forces in June. He was 27.

Three other men faced similar charges in the military court which sentenced two of them to two and a half years each, while a third was tried in absentia and sentenced to five years in prison.

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