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Trial of ‘Facebook jihadist’ opens

By Taylor Luck - Sep 29,2014 - Last updated at Sep 29,2014

AMMAN — The trial of Wassim Abu Ayesh, one of the 11 men suspected of being active members of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, opened at the State Security Court on Monday.

The court held its first hearing in the trial of the 20-year-old Irbid resident, who is charged with promoting terrorist ideology via social networks, in violation of articles 3 and 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Law. 

A General Intelligence Department official testifying for prosecution confirmed that Abu Ayesh confessed to posting pro-IS messages and videos on his personal Facebook account.

Abu Ayesh countered that the video in question was related to abuses allegedly carried out by the government of former Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al Maliki against Sunni detainees at Abu Ghraib Prison, and the jihadist group’s attack on the prison facility in 2013.

During the brief session, Abu Ayesh’s defence attorney, Moussa Abdallat, argued that the Irbid resident was not provided with a copy of his reported confession before signing.

The defendant, who pleaded not guilty, spoke out several times throughout the proceedings, claiming that he is “against killing and against the IS reaching Jordan”.

The court set the next hearing for October 13.

Abu Ayesh is the first of 11 alleged Jordanian IS members facing trial for their ties to the extremist group, which has no official presence in Jordan and controls vast areas in Syria and Iraq.

The defendant is the first to be prosecuted in Jordan for promoting jihadist ideology via the Internet and faces a prison sentence of between five and seven years. 

According to judicial and legal sources, some 60 citizens have been detained as part of an ongoing crackdown against hard-line Jihadi Salafists. The vast majority are yet to be charged or referred to court. 

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