- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 10, 2001

AMMAN, Jordan The government has warned against any attempt to destabilize the country and amended its law on the press and on terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
The new rules, which took effect yesterday, were spelled out Monday, with a firm warning against any attempt to infringe on national security in the wake of U.S. and British attacks on Afghanistan. The government also published in the official newspaper a broader definition of terrorism and tougher penalties, including new sanctions for violations of the press law.
"Acts of terrorism" now include any banking operations "linked to terrorist activity," as well as border infiltration and attacks on industrial compounds or shipping, officials said. Attacks on telecommunication and computer systems as well as hostage-taking are also considered terrorist acts under the new law.
Sanctions include the confiscation of "suspect funds" and jail terms with hard labor for those found guilty, including bank employees, of dealing in or managing terror-linked accounts.
The death sentence will be applied to anyone convicted of "terrorist acts" leading to the death of any individual, or if the action involved the use of explosives, toxic chemicals, bacteriological or radioactive material.
Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb said on Friday that amending the penal code was necessary to meet the challenges of terrorism. "Our penal code does not cover all the needs that we are confronting now, and there will be amendments to deal with these issues; namely, on how to deal with and punish terrorist acts," he said.
The amendments also stipulate the "permanent or temporary closure" of publications that carry "false or libelous information that can undermine national unity or the country's reputation."
Publications carrying articles that incite "crimes, strikes, illegal public assemblies or undermining public order" will also be subject to punishment.
In 1999, the government scrapped an earlier law that enabled it to shut down newspapers.
The amended penal code also stipulates prison terms of one to three years for any attempt to tarnish the reputation of the royal couple or the crown prince. It also provides sanctions for publication in the media or on the Internet of pictures "that undermine the king's dignity" or that attribute "false statements" to him.
The so-called "temporary" measures were approved by the king, who has the power to issue legislation in the absence of parliament, which was dissolved by royal decree in June in advance of new elections.
At the end of August, the government banned unapproved public assemblies amid mounting anti-Israeli and anti-U.S. feeling linked to the year-old Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule in the occupied territories.
Jordan, which has repeatedly fallen prey to terrorist acts over the past decades, has strongly denounced the attacks on the United States and pledged its backing to international efforts to eradicate terrorism.
A Jordanian American is currently on trial in Amman's state security court on charges of membership in Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network and participation in a conspiracy to carry out attacks in the kingdom.
Earlier, Jordan's opposition Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Action Front condemned Monday the United States attacks on Afghanistan and the Arab "silence" after the raids.
"We in the Muslim Brotherhood have said more than once that the American scheme is aimed at more than what America calls 'terrorism' … It is aimed at all forces opposed to American and Zionist hegemony," the Brotherhood said.
"We also denounce the official Arab and Muslim silence over what is happening in a brother Muslim country because this silence is equal to participation in the attack and tears up the [Muslim] nation's unity."
The Brotherhood called on Arab and Muslim countries to "assume their historic responsibilities and forge a united front" against the attacks and to "review their relations with the United States." It also called on Arab and Muslim governments to implement Shariah [Islamic law] in their countries and to "respect civil liberties."
Earlier, the head of the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the Brotherhood's political wing, told Agence France-Presse that the attacks launched by the United States and Britain were tantamount to a "dirty war of extermination against a primitive Muslim people who have no resources and who cannot face up to the destructive American war machine."
"We always denounce terrorism, under all its forms, terrorism by individuals, organizations or state terrorism," said Abdel Latif Arabiyat, adding that U.S. attacks on Afghanistan were in the latter category.
"With this war, the United States is seeking to intimidate and bring to submission all the Arab and Muslim people," Mr. Arabiyat said, recalling that two weeks ago President George W. Bush spoke of a "Crusade" against terrorism.
Also Monday, the government said it "reaffirms its support for international efforts to combat terrorism, but also underlines the necessity to spare innocent Afghan civilians."
"The fight against terrorism must not be confined to the military aspect, but extend to the principal causes of deception in the region, that is to say a just settlement of the Palestinian question on the basis of international law," the government spokesman added.
He stressed that Arabs and Muslims not be held responsible for the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the United States "which contradict Arab values and Islam's principles of tolerance."

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide