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Jordan broadcasts 3 Hamas confessions

But group denies Amman's charges

AMMAN, Jordan -- State television broadcast confessions by three members of the militant Palestinian group Hamas yesterday who were detained in what Jordan said was a plot to target its officials.

Hamas denied the charges and accused Jordan of trying to undermine the Palestinian government, which it now leads.

The three suspects said in their confessions that they were Hamas agents who monitored Jordanian intelligence officers and foreign tourists, apparently for a possible attack. Two said they acquired arms and ammunition for Hamas.

The broadcast showed footage of weapons, including dozens of hand grenades and Iranian-made Katyusha rockets, that were seized when Jordanian police arrested 20 Hamas activists in raids that began April 18. Some of the weapons were wrapped in plastic and had allegedly been hidden in an olive grove in northern Jordan.

The broadcast of the confessions came one day after Jordan said it arrested more than 20 Hamas activists for smuggling weapons into the kingdom. The government said the activists intended to attack various sites and military and civilian officials. The government had previously said the weapons were brought in from neighboring Syria.

Hamas officials -- along with the Syrian government, which hosts Hamas's exiled leadership -- have denied the accusations.

The discovery of the weapons cache further strained Jordan's relations with Hamas, which have been tense for years. Jordan warned the Hamas-led Palestinian government against fomenting violence in the kingdom.

Ayman Naji Daraghmeh, 34, said in his confession that Hamas had instructed him to watch a specific Jordanian intelligence officer, but he did not explain why the group wanted the officer monitored.

''They said this officer has harmed the movement," said Daraghmeh, who had a long beard and looked relaxed in his videotape.

He said a fellow Hamas operative managed to take some ''quick photos" of the intelligence officer. Daraghmeh took the pictures to Hamas in Syria, where he received training in personal security and ''resisting interrogation," he said.

Detainee Ahmad Abu Rabee, 27, said in his confession that Daraghmeh had ordered him to ''monitor a bus of the intelligence department" in an Amman district.

He said he watched the bus ''three or four times," and reported to Daraghmeh the times of the day when the bus transported the intelligence personnel.

Abu Rabee also said Daraghmeh had asked him to buy weapons and ammunition, and he did so.

Detainee Ahmed Abu Thiyab, a mosque preacher, said in his confession that he got weapons and ammunition for Hamas in Jordan, and that some of the arms came from Iraq.

Hamas spokesmen challenged the allegations.

''We are very displeased with the way the Jordanian government has handled this case," spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Al-Jazeera.

''The Jordanian government is playing an unclean role against Hamas at a time when the movement and the Palestinian people are subjected to international siege," he said.

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