Gunman in Fatal Attack on Jordan’s Intelligence Agency Sentenced to Death, Lawyer Says

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Gunman Mahmoud Masharfeh, 22.
Gunman Mahmoud Masharfeh, 22.Credit: Screenshot from Google

An assailant who killed five people in a June shooting attack on a branch of Jordan's intelligence agency was sentenced to death Thursday, a defense lawyer said.

Jordan's government portrayed the shooting at the time as a "terrorist attack," one of several violent incidents in the pro-Western kingdom over the past year linked to Islamic militants.

Jordan is part of a U.S.-led military coalition against Islamic State extremists who control large areas in neighboring Iraq and Syria. At home, Jordan has clamped down on suspected extremists, including jailing those who support IS on social media.

Thursday's sentence was handed down by Jordan's state security court. Defendant Mahmoud Masharfeh, 22, displayed no emotion when he heard the decision, said Abdel Hakim al-Asseri, a defense lawyer.

Al-Asseri represented another defendant, who was sentenced to a year in prison for selling a weapon to Masharfeh. The lawyer said his client "sold the weapon, but his intention was not terrorism or the harm the country, just to sell the weapon as any normal guy who is selling his weapon."

The attack took place in the morning of June 6, the first day of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. It targeted a local intelligence agency branch near the Palestinian refugee camp of Baqaa, close to the capital of Amman.

The assailant walked into the building, opened fire and killed five staff members, including guards. He fled, but was arrested several hours later at a mosque in a different town.

Jordan's government clamped a news blackout on the case.

The shooting exposed Jordan's vulnerability to attacks, including those by "lone wolf" assailants.

In November, a police captain opened fire in an international police training center in Amman, killing five, including two Americans. On June 21, an Islamic State cross-border suicide attack from Syria targeted a Jordanian border post, killing seven troops.

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