SLUG: 2-270046 Jordan Terrorism (L) DATE: NOTE NUMBER:









INTRO: Jordanian officials say they have ordered a new trial for a Jordanian-American Islamic militant who was convicted and sentenced to death in absentia on charges of terrorism. The suspect was reportedly extradited to Jordan one-week ago from Syria. Middle East Correspondent Scott Bobb reports from our Bureau in Cairo.

TEXT: Judicial officials in Amman confirm that the suspect, Ra'ed Hijazi, is being held in a Jordanian prison until a new trial next year. Jordanian officials say a new trial must be held for Mr. Hijazi because he is no longer a fugitive.

Mr. Hijazi was one of six men sentenced to death for terrorism last September by a military court in Jordan. Sixteen others were sentenced to prison terms ranging up to life, while six were acquitted. Twelve of the 28 defendants were tried in absentia.

All were charged with possessing explosives and planning attacks during Jordan's millennium celebrations. But they were all acquitted of the charge of having contacts with Islamist leader Osama bin-Laden. Mr. Hijazi was said to be a close associate of Mr. bin-Laden.

U-S news reports say Mr. Hijazi is also a prime suspect in the attack on the U-S Navy destroyer Cole last October in the Yemeni port of Aden. Seventeen U-S sailors were killed when a small boat exploded beside the ship, leaving a gaping hole in its side.

U-S officials are not commenting on the Cole case because it is still under investigation. But Yemeni officials say they believe the attack was the work of international terrorists and sources close to the investigation have said militants linked to Osama bin-Laden are among the suspects.

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Mr. bin-Laden is reportedly the leader of a network of Islamist groups that have pledged war against Israeli and U-S interests around the world because of the presence of U-S troops in the Middle East. He is accused by the U-S government of masterminding the bomb attacks two-years ago on the U-S embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in which 224-people were killed. (SIGNED)