Jordan fights wave of Syria jihad with heavy jail sentences
AMMAN - A military tribunal jailed five Jordanian Muslim hardliners on Monday for trying to join the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front to fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, a court official said.
"The state security court sentenced the five Salafist convicts, who have ties of friendship, to five years in jail with hard labour each for attempting to infiltrate Syria and join Al-Nusra and fight the Syrian regime," he said.
Salafists espouse an austere form of Sunni Islam.
"Border guards ambushed and arrested the men in February 2012 as they tried to cross the border carrying AK-47 assault rifles," the official added.
"They were charged with the possession of unlicenced automatic weapons with the intent to use them unlawfully as well as carrying out acts that would expose Jordan and its citizens to the risk of acts of aggression and revenge."
Last week, the military court jailed another seven Jordanians on similar charges.
Jordan, which is hosting more than 500,000 Syrian refugees, has jailed dozens of men convicted of trying enter Syria to fight alongside rebel forces.
Amman denies accusations from the Syrian regime that Jordan has opened up its borders to jihadist fighters.
Salafist leaders in Jordan have said that hundreds of jihadists from the kingdom have managed to cross into Syria since the start of its conflict in March 2011.