AMMAN, Jordan – Jordan's military court sentenced Al Qaeda in Iraq chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to death for a second time Sunday for a failed suicide bombing along the Iraqi border a year ago.
Al-Zarqawi and a second militant were sentenced in absentia. A third, Saudi Fahd Noman Suwelim al-Feheiqi, is in custody.
The military court previously sentenced the Jordanian-born Al-Zarqawi, who is believed to be in Iraq, to death for the October 2002 slaying of U.S. aid worker Laurence Foley, who was gunned down outside his Amman home.
The court said Sunday it found al-Zarqawi and the other militants guilty of the planned terror attack, which prosecutors said targeted civilians on the Jordanian-Iraqi borders a year ago.
The planned attack, which failed when the bomber's vehicle drove into a ditch, was intended to coincide with a blast that killed two U.S. troops at an American forward operating base near the Iraqi-Jordanian border in December 2004.
"If you kill me, God will consider my death martyrdom!" shouted the bearded al-Feheiqi, standing in the dock in dark blue prison uniform during the sentencing.
"I wanted to carry out the suicide bombing, but the ditch prevented me from doing so!" he shouted as the presiding three judges were leaving the heavily secured courtroom after issuing the verdict.
Al-Feheiqi, 24, was arrested Dec. 3, 2004 and pleaded not guilty when the trial opened June 1. His lawyer, Yousef al-Adwan, said he planned to appeal the guilty verdict.
"No bombing took place, and my client didn't inflict harm on anyone," he told The Associated Press.
Jordan is a key U.S. ally and a fervent supporter of America's global war on terror.
Al-Feheiqi and the fugitives — Al-Zarqawi and an Arab identified as Dhirar Ismail Abu-Odeh or Abu Abdul-Rahman al-Afghani — were charged with the foiled terror conspiracy and transporting and possessing explosives and missiles.
The military court said Sunday it was "convinced beyond any doubt" that the three defendants had plotted terrorism, and they received a harsh penalty for attempting to kill innocent civilians.
The indictment sheet said al-Zarqawi instructed al-Feheiqi to listen for blasts inside the Iraqi border and then slam his explosives-laden vehicle into trucks parked in Jordanian territory.
But his vehicle fell in a ditch, causing the electric circuit to detach from the explosives. Al-Feheiqi tried to escape but was captured by Jordanian border authorities.
Al-Zarqawi, who is waging a wave of kidnappings, beheadings and suicide bombings in neighboring Iraq, has claimed responsibility for the Nov. 9 triple hotel blasts in Amman, which killed 60 people and injured scores of others.
The bombings carried out be three Iraqis were the deadliest terror attacks in Jordan and shook the kingdom's long-standing reputation for stability.