2006: Two al-Qaeda militants for the murder of a U.S. diplomat

On this date in 2006, Jordan hanged Salem bin Suweid, a Libyan, and Yasser Freihat, a Jordanian, for the murder of an American diplomat.

USAID representative Laurence Foley was gunned down leaving for work at the American embassy in October of 2002.

Jordan, generally a staunch U.S. ally, was quick to downplay any wider significance. “We are fairly certain that we will catch the perpetrators and will [bring] them to justice,” said government spokesman Mohammed al-Adwan.

Bin Suweid and Freihat were convicted of the assassination as part of a cell allegedly run by Jordanian-born al-Qaeda terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who would himself be assassinated in an American bombing later in 2006.

Jordan was no more eager to stir emotions over this day’s hangings than over the perpetrators’ crime. But one analyst noted to the Associated Press that it was an unusual foray into executing al-Qaeda operatives as against less augustly credentialed Islamic militants. Jordan’s Hashemite dynasty knows how to keep its head down in dangerous times.

“It shows that Jordan doesn’t want its territory to be a playground for terrorists and sets out a deterrent for the future that Jordanian society, as tolerant as it can be, is very strict regarding the rash wanton murder of innocent civilians.”

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