Counter-Terrorism: Jordan Getting Hammered

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March 13, 2006: With al Qaeda taking a beating in Iraq, the organization is moving more of its operations to Jordan. The leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, is a Jordanian, has been condemned to death in Jordan for terrorism, and would like to inflict some pain back home, if only for old times sake. Islamic terrorists have long been active in Jordan. Zarqawi found himself in Iraq in early 2003, because the police were hot on his heels back in Jordan, and Saddam was always quick to offer sanctuary for terrorists. One reason for the al Qaeda popularity in Jordan was the large number of Palestinians living there. Since al Qaeda is a big supporter of destroying Israel, many Palestinians are eager to assist al Qaeda. The U.S. Invasion of Iraq was seen as an attack on al Qaeda, and Jordan's aligning itself with the United States, made the Jordanian government an even bigger target for Islamic terrorism.

The Jordanians fought back. Jordanian security forces stopped two Islamic terror attacks in 2003, eight in 2004 and ten in 2005. With the defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq, more attacks are being directed against Jordanian targets. This is making Israel nervous, because the Jordanian government, despite occasional anti-Israel rhetoric, has long been a reliable and peaceful neighbor. If Islamic terrorists took over, that would all change. The counterterrorism situation in Jordan is complicated by the fact that there are a growing number of Sunni Arab Iraqis fleeing to Jordan, to escape the violence in Iraq. But many of these Sunni Arabs have blood on their hands, either as members of Saddam's secret police, or active supporters of al Qaeda.

It's also believed that there are growing problems in the Jordanian Army and security forces. Incidents of indiscipline and desertion are increasing. Some of it is linked to religious extremism.

 


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