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Jordan Apparently Now Willing to Accept Jailed Hamas Leader

May 1, 1997
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Jailed Hamas leader Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, in the face of U.S. deportation proceedings, reportedly will be allowed to go to Jordan on humanitarian grounds.

The move follows Israel’s decision a few weeks ago to drop its request to extradite Marzook from the United States in apparent fear that putting him on trial in the region would provoke Palestinian violence.

One Israeli official in Washington welcomed the news even as he cautioned that Israel had not confirmed the reports.

If, indeed, Marzook is sent to Jordan, it is a “better option than other options,” he said.

King Hussein not only “understands the danger of Hamas to the peace process and to Israel, but also to his own regime and own status,” said the official, who declined to be named.

“He is the best to control extremists and has a very high level of cooperation with us.”

Marzook had lived in the United States for about 15 years when he was detained on the suspicion that he was a terrorist when he tried to re-enter in July 1995.

Marzook maintains that he was only a fund-raiser and organizer for the political wing of Hamas.

But Israel and the United States have held that there is enough evidence to prosecute Marzook for orchestrating suicide bombings in Israel.

Israel had asked for his extradition to bring him to justice for his alleged role in 10 terrorist attacks between 1990 and 1994 that took 47 lives. Credit for the attacks was claimed by Hamas’ military wing.

Marzook took Israelis by surprise in January when he announced that he would no longer fight the extradition, apparently believing that his public profile was flagging and needed a boost.

After Israel dropped its extradition request, a U.S. judge refused to release Marzook, saying that he once again was subject to charges of violating immigration laws. Those charges were suspended when Israel’s request was made.

At the same time, a deal evidently was being fashioned which resulted in Jordan’s decision to accept Marzook.

There had been some speculation that the State Department would impose conditions on his deportation to Jordan. That might have included keeping him under house arrest and restricting his political activities.

But a Jordanian official reportedly said today that he would come “without any commitments whatsoever.”

Some sources said this week that they feared Marzook would remain a terrorist threat if he is allowed to communicate freely with his Hamas colleagues in the region.

One, however, said it is likely that despite the Jordanian denials, Marzook would be subject to certain restrictions, but that as part of the terms of the deal, neither Jordan nor the United States would be likely to disclose the details of those restrictions.

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