Iraq Insurgency Funding Conviction Overturned

An appeals court has overturned the conviction of a Jordanian found guilty of financing Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi's (search) insurgent group in Iraq, according to a ruling obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.

The Oct. 31 conviction of Bilal Mansur al-Hiyari (search) by the military State Security Court "fell short of adequate justifications and causes," the Court of Cassation said in the March 20 ruling.

The United States has accused al-Hiyari of financing al-Zarqawi, a fellow Jordanian who leads the most active insurgent group in Iraq. Washington said in April it would freeze any assets al-Hiyari may have in the United States and was asking U.N. members to do likewise.

The court demanded a retrial for al-Hiyari, who had already served his six-month jail sentence and has been released. He is believed to be in Jordan (search), but his whereabouts were not known Tuesday.

Jordanian security officials declined to say if he was being sought for a retrial, where he could be convicted again and possibly receive a harsher sentence.

The U.S. government contends that al-Hiyari became acquainted with al-Zarqawi when they met in Afghanistan in 1989. It has said al-Hiyari traveled to Iraq in 2003 and sent funds to al-Zarqawi's network through messengers.

Jordanian military prosecutors said in their indictment that al-Zarqawi recruited al-Hiyari to "raise funds to finance military operations on the Jordanian and Iraqi arenas." The indictment said U.S. forces in Iraq were specifically targeted.