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‘Al Qaeda-linked ISIL no threat to Jordan’

By Khetam Malkawi - Jan 06,2014 - Last updated at Jan 06,2014

AMMAN — The Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), also known with its Arabic acronym DAESH, is not a threat to the Kingdom, and the country’s borders are tightly controlled, sources said on Monday.

A government source speaking on condition of anonymity said the operations that ISIL is performing are in “the very heart” of Iraq and far away from the Jordanian border, and so there is no need to seal the country’s borders with its eastern neighbour.

The remarks were echoed by Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Mohammad Momani, who stressed that the country’s borders have never been a weak spot.

“We continue to control and guard our borders from any situation. Our border security has proven a tremendous success over years”, Momani, who is also the government spokesperson, told The Jordan Times over the phone on Monday.

ISIL, an Al Qaeda-linked faction, is currently having its control over Fallujah and parts of Ramadi in Iraq’s Anbar province, which borders the Kingdom.

According to news reports this is the first time that militants have exercised such open control in major cities since the US-led invasion in 2003.

The group also controls parts of Syria and is being battled by other Islamist rebel groups (see separate story).

The threat is considered as an unexpected scenario even by the Jihadi Salafist group in Jordan, who also denied any organisational connection to ISIL, except in “a few cases when individuals joined it”.

ISIL will not threaten the security of the Kingdom, “unless it is targeted by Jordan or any country of the region”, a local Jihadi Salafist leader told The Jordan Times on condition of anonymity.

“ISIL’ present concern is to have control on some of the Iraqi and Syrian areas, and they will not threaten the security of Jordan,” he said, a view also held by political analyst and expert in Islamic groups, Mohammad Abu Rumman, who explained that Al Qaeda has removed Jordan from its list after the killing of Jordanian Abu Musab Zarqawi, who reportedly masterminded terrorist bombings in Amman in 2005.

Although the Islamist leader stressed that there is no connection between his group in Jordan and ISIL, he claimed that there are few Jordanians who joined ISIL individually.

“We are not an organised party to have connections with ISIL, but there is communication at the personal level,” he told The Jordan Times.

Abu Rumman agreed that they are not a threat and “would not be a threat even in the future”.

“There are some exaggerations when talking about the threat that ISIL poses to Jordan,” Abu Rumman told The Jordan Times over the phone.

He attributed that to two reasons: the first is that Jordan is not a priority for ISIL, like Iraq and Syria, explaining that Jordan was a priority for Al Qaeda before 2005 at the times of Zarqawi, “who targeted the Kingdom for personal goals then”, but after the death of Zarqawi, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon topped their priority scale.

In addition, he explained that the Jordanian Jihadi Salafist group led by Abu Mohammad Maqdesi has announced sometime ago that they believe in “peaceful Daawa [preaching Islam]” and Jordan will not be a land for violent acts.

“This statement will weaken any plan to target Jordan in the future,” Abu Rumman argued.

However, he noted that the only scenario through which ISIL will threaten Jordan is if they are going to have full control over enclaves adjacent to the Jordanian borders with Syria and Iraq, “which is a far-fetched possibility”.

He explained that the Sunni community in Iraq and Syria does not consider Al Qaeda and any of its affiliate as the right candidate to fill the “political gap” in the Sunni landscape in the war-torn country.

“They are in conflict with Al Qaeda and they are defending their identity,” the analyst said, adding that the talk about the control of the Syrian-Jordanian borders being under the control of the Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat Al Nusra is “a big lie”.

“Jordan has a very tight grip on its borders,” he said.

Having said that, the analyst recommends that Jordan look inwards and focus on its reform programme.


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