Twelve Jordanians were sentenced on Tuesday to jail terms of up to 15 years for their involvement in a cell recruiting members for Hamas.
Of 16 defendants, four were acquitted and 12 convicted of terrorist offences, a judicial source said.
“Four were sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison, while three detainees got five years,” the source said. One was sentenced to three years and four to one year.
All were found guilty of manufacturing explosives, carrying out acts to disturb the peace and “recruiting people on behalf of armed groups”.
Ties between Jordan and Hamas, the de facto power in the Gaza Strip, have been strained since 1999 when the kingdom expelled the Palestinian movement’s chief Khaled Meshaal.
In 2006, they were further worsened when Amman accused the group of arms trafficking from Syria.
In 1997, two years before he was expelled, Meshaal survived an assassination attempt by the Israeli secret service Mossad in the Jordanian capital, Amman.
A team of five agents, posing as Canadian tourists, ambushed Meshaal, spraying poison in his ear that instantly paralysed him and would eventually have caused his death.
Jordanian security forces arrested two of the Israeli agents while three others fled to the Israeli embassy in Amman. King Hussein eventually traded the agents for the antidote.