Jordan has beefed up its security following a number of attacks that have left the kingdom rattled. Yet home-grown extremism is also challenging the western-backed kingdom pressured by economic crisis, refugee flows and repercussions of the war in Syria.
CCTV’s Natalie Carney reports the story.
Jordan strengthens security measures under terrorism pressureJordan has been considered a bastion of stability within the Middle East. Yet a recent string of attacks have caused the kingdom to re-think its security strategies.
Jordan has been considered a bastion of stability within the Middle East. Yet a recent string of attacks have caused the kingdom to re-think its security strategies. In June, an ISIL attack on Jordan’s border with Syria killed six Jordanian soldiers.
Following this, the military sent in massive reinforcement and declared its borders closed military zones, adding that any individuals or vehicles approaching its borders without prior approval will be considered a hostile targets.
Yet while the Kingdom focuses on the external threat, concern is growing over Jordan’s internal dangers.
“I consider the most dangerous threat in the region, is the internal threat. When the people believe what the outsiders or externals/extremists have in their ideology and what they have to accomplish. The only threat I consider that would put the state in danger is coming from the internal of the Jordanian society,” said Aref Al-Zaben, a retired Brigadier General of the Jordanian Armed Force on Counter Terrorism.
Around 2,000 Jordanians have joined ISIL in Syria according to government sources and analysts said a further 10,000 conservative jihadists remain across the Hashemite kingdom.
Despite a population of just 8.1 million people, Jordan ranks third behind Saudi Arabia and Tunisia for the number of foreign fighters in the Middle East. Most are from economically marginalized towns such as Irbid, Zarqa and Ma’an.
Ma’an is a city in central Jordan where many residents are said to sympathize with the ideology of ISIL. One reason for this could be its high unemployment rate: one out of four people here live below the poverty line. A man can hardly take care of his own future and since there are no jobs, men are finding it very difficult to support themselves and their families.
ISIL have been known to pay their fighters as much as $1500 a month. Earlier this year in the northern city of Irbid, Jordan’s security forces took down an ISIL “sleeper cell” in an eleven-hour firefight. Seven terrorists and one army officer were killed while weapons and explosives were seized.
This forced the country to take action says retired Brigadier General Al Zaben.
Yet despite these measures, Jordan still remains vulnerable as high unemployment, restrictions on political expression and sectarian warfare continues in neighboring Syria and Iraq.
Jordan’s struggle to host more than 600,000 Syrian refugees is also adding pressure to growing anxieties.