AMMAN, Jordan – A military court on Sunday upheld the guilty verdict and death sentence for a Jordanian-American convicted of conspiring to carry out poison gas attacks on American and Israeli targets in the kingdom three years ago.
The ruling more than two months after an appeals court ordered a retrial of Raed Hijazi, 33, saying military judges in State Security Court had insufficient evidence to convict him last February of possessing arms and manufacturing explosives.
In Sunday's session, Col. Fawaz Buqour, presiding over a three-judge panel, said the court had upheld the previous verdict and punishment.
"The State Security Court decided not to comply with the ruling of the appeals court," he said.
The decision can be appealed again.
Hijazi -- who was born in San Jose, Calif. and carries Jordanian and American passports -- had pleaded innocent to seven charges, including possession of arms and explosives and conspiring to blow up Jordanian sites frequented by American and Israeli tourists during the New Year 2000 celebrations.
The military prosecutors said Hijazi planned to attack sites including Mount Nebo, where tradition says Moses saw the promised land, and a Christian settlement along the Jordan River where John the Baptist is said to have baptized Jesus Christ.
In its Oct. 6 ruling, the appeals court rejected the earlier military court verdict, saying Hijazi's possession of lethal acids was "not enough evidence to prove the offense of manufacturing explosives." It also said the military court had not substantiated the allegation Hijazi had automatic weapons in his possession.
However, the court said then it had found Hijazi to be a conspirator with two others convicted in absentia "to carry out a terrorist action against (Israeli) tourists in Jordan."
The appeals court did not rule on Hijazi's fellow conspirators, who had been sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison with hard labor. They are Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian, and Loa'i Mohammed Haj Bakr al-Saqa, a Syrian.
In its Feb. 11 verdict, the military court dismissed charges that Hijazi belonged to an illegal organization, which the prosecution had identified as al-Qaida -- the terror group led by Osama bin Laden that is blamed for the Sept. 11 attacks. The judges found no evidence of an al-Qaida presence in Jordan.
Hijazi, who was arrested in Syria and extradited to Jordan in October 2000, testified in last year's trial that he had no links with bin Laden and that he did not plot terrorist attacks because to do so would be against the teachings of Islam.
Military court documents said Hijazi was first exposed to radical Islam while studying business at California State University, Sacramento, in 1991. The court heard Hijazi had received military training in Afghanistan in 1999 and had returned to Syria, intending to go to Jordan. But Jordanian security agents foiled his plot by arresting the other members of his cell.