Jordan's military prosecutor indicted 13 alleged Muslim militants yesterday, including fugitive Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi, for an al-Qaeda linked plot to attack targets in Jordan with chemical and conventional weapons, government officials said yesterday. \nLieutenant Colonel Mahmoud Obeidat summoned the nine terror suspects who are in custody and read them the charges listed in the indictment, the officials said on condition of anonymity. \nThey said the four at large, including al-Zarqawi, were also charged and would be tried in absentia. The trial was expected to begin next month. \nAl-Zarqawi, the best-known figure indicted, is thought to be directing anti-US attacks and kidnappings in Iraq, where he leads the Tawhid and Jihad group. \nSecurity officials have said the plot targeted the Jordanian prime minister's office, the secret service agency, the US Embassy in Jordan and other sites. \nAzmi al-Jayousi, the alleged mastermind of the cell who was captured in April, has confessed to military prosecutors plans for a chemical attack, the officials said. \nThe military court is expected to issue a 10-day grace period this week for the four fugitives to surrender to authorities -- a process which precedes the opening of the trial. In Jordan, charges become formal when read aloud at the opening of the trial. \nThe charges on seven counts include conspiring to commit terror attacks in Jordan, possessing and manufacturing explosive material and affiliation with a banned group, the officials added. The group in question has been identified as Kata'eb al-Tawhid (Battalions of Monotheism), a previously unknown group said to be linked to al-Qaeda. If convicted on all counts, defendants could be sentenced to death. \nSecurity officials and, in televised confessions some of the detained suspects themselves, have said the plot was linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network. \nBesides the 13 suspects, four were killed in a police shootout on April 20, when the terror plot was uncovered and foiled with most members of the Jordanian cell arrested. \nJordan announced in April it had foiled a terrorist plot blamed on al-Zarqawi.
The number of people from Hong Kong applying for residency in Taiwan last year rose 41 percent from a year earlier to 5,858, National Immigration Agency statistics showed. The statistics also showed that 600 applications were filed by Hong Kong residents in the first quarter of this year — three times the number filed in the same period last year — with applicants apparently not deterred by the COVID-19 pandemic. Just one day after it was reported that the Chinese government plans to enact new national security laws in Hong Kong, inquiries regarding immigration to Taiwan grew 10-fold, a Hong Kong-based immigration
‘BEGINNING OF THE END’: Democracy advocate Joshua Wong urged Hong Kongers to stand up and fight, and let the Chinese government know that they will not cave Hong Kong protesters yesterday battled with riot police in busy downtown areas, showing their opposition toward China’s dramatic move to crack down on dissent in the biggest demonstration since the coronavirus swept through the territory in January. Police deployed a water cannon and fired tear gas in the Causeway Bay shopping area after hundreds of protesters had gathered to oppose new national security legislation from China. Police warned the crowd they were taking part in an illegal gathering, and later said in a statement that “rioters threw umbrellas, water bottles and other objects at them.” At least 120 people were arrested,
‘TAIWAN IS SAFE’: As there have been no new local cases for 42 days, people should feel free to travel around the nation — as long as they follow disease prevention rules No new cases of COVID-19 were reported yesterday and only 20 of the people hospitalized after testing positive are still being treated in hospitals, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday in Pingtung County’s Kenting (墾丁) as he promoted a “new disease prevention lifestyle” for the nation. As yesterday was the 42nd consecutive day with no new domestic cases, and experts consider 28 consecutive days with no domestic case — the span of two incubation periods — a sign that a community is relatively safe, Taiwan is safe, said Chen, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC),
SMOOTHER TRANSIT: Japan Airlines reportedly planned to land the flight at Haneda Airport, but changed it to Narita for direct flights to Taiwan The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday thanked Japan for allowing 94 Taiwanese on a chartered plane evacuating others stranded in Russia, where COVID-19 cases are rising and many international flights have been canceled. Ninety-four Taiwanese exchange students and expats, as well as two Russian spouses, arrived at Narita International Airport in Japan yesterday morning on a charter flight operated by Japan Airlines, before taking a transfer flight to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport last night, ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said. As of press time last night, Russia had reported more than 362,000 cases of COVID-19, including more than 3,800 deaths. The government had