Three Jordanian men appeared in court Sunday to face charges connected to the stabbing of eight people at a popular archaeological site in northern Jordan in November in an attack allegedly inspired by the Islamic State group.
The military judge presiding over the trial accused the men of supporting Islamic State ideology and carrying out the attack at Jerash to avenge the death of late IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
November’s incident took place in Jerash, one of Jordan’s most visited archaeological sites, an ancient city whose ruins include a Roman amphitheater and a columned road.
Jordan relies heavily on incoming tourism. Islamist militant groups have repeatedly targeted the country’s tourist sites to impact the economy and embarrass the government.
Mustafa Abu Tuameh, 22, is accused of stabbing eight people, including one Swiss and three Mexican tourists, and four Jordanians. None of the victims suffered life-threatening wounds. Gruesome footage of the attack was captured by bystanders.
At the time of the attack, the Jordanian army’s news site identified Abu Tuameh as a resident of the nearby Palestinian refugee camp. Family members said he had recently become very religious and apparently planned to die in the attack.
Abu Tuameh and the two other defendants allegedly planned to carry out another attack on a church in northern Jordan.
Osama Abu-Amra, 22, faces charges of plotting a terrorist act, and attempting to join a terrorist organization. Khaled al-Soufi, 21, was charged with promoting the ideas of a terrorist organization.
The three defendants pleaded innocent to the charges. If convicted, they could face up to 15 years in prison.