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Officials say suspected terror cell was ‘prepared to carry larger-scale’ attacks

Suspects were supporters of Daesh terror group, minister says 

By Rana Husseini - Aug 13,2018 - Last updated at Aug 13,2018

Top officials and security commanders speak to reporters in Amman on Monday (Petra photo)

AMMAN — Government officials on Monday said investigations into the alleged terrorist cell in Salt indicated that its members adopted the takfiri ideology and were supporters of the Daesh extremist group.

Five suspects, all Jordanians, were arrested and three others were killed during a Saturday night shootout with police in Salt, some 30km northwest of Amman, which ended with the suspects reportedly detonating the building they were barricading themselves in.

The operation resulted in the death of four officers, including three who died when the building collapsed while they were inside it. Dozens of officers were also injured in the incident.

The alleged terrorist cell was also behind the explosion in Fuheis on Friday that ripped through a joint Gendarmerie-police patrol stationed near the Fuheis Festival. One police officer was killed while six others sustained injuries.


“All security agencies worked in the utmost professional manner and highest coordination to investigate the Fuheis incident, which led them, in less than 12 hours, to locate the hideout of the suspects in Salt,” Interior Minister Samir Mubaidin told a press conference that was held at the Gendarmerie Headquarters in Shafa Badran.

He added that “the suspects have recently adopted takfiri ideologies [which label many Muslims and non-Muslims as apostates that deserve death] and were eager to carry out terrorists attacks against sensitive entities and crowded places in Jordan”.

Turning to the Fuheis incident, Mubaidin added that primitive bomb that was planted in the location where the two security vehicles were to park was “detonated by a remote control”.  

“We are still questioning the five suspects and depending on what they will tell us we might end up arresting more people,” the minister added.

He added that one of the suspects ushered investigators to a stash of explosives and weapons that was buried in an area in Salt.

“There was a large amount of explosives and weapons, and we decided to detonate it on the spot because it was highly dangerous to move them,” the minister said.

Gendarmerie Department Director Maj. Gen. Hussein Hawatmeh also addressed the press conference and described in chronological order events that eventually led to the raid of the building and the loss of life among the raiding force.

Hawatmeh added that on Saturday at 5:30 PM, a special armed unit was ordered to raid the building after receiving “specific and important briefing from the General Intelligence Department that more terror attacks were to take place if the suspects were not immediately stopped”.

“Every second counted then and we decided to immediately raid the building by implementing several phases with the utmost professional planning and well-prepared steps to prevent additional harmful incidents,” the interior minister explained.

Hawatmeh stressed that the safety and security “of our citizens is the most important thing” so they decided to do whatever it took to protect civilians, regardless of the sacrifices that had to be made, because the other option was “to allow these men to carry out deadly and devastating attacks”.

Minister of State for Media Affairs Jumana Ghunaimat also addressed the press conference stating that “the swift raiding of the building by the security personnel was urgently needed because: “We received intelligence that there were several explosives in some areas that were ready to be detonated by remote control.”

“The suspects in the building had access to these remote controls and that is why we wanted to stop them before they could use it,” explained Ghunaimat, who is also the government spokesperson.

Public Security Department Director Maj. Gen. Fadel Hmoud also highlighted the coordination between the security agencies to ensure that “none of the suspects who were hiding in the building in Salt could escape”.

“We posted road blocks on various streets in Salt and checked people’s IDs,” Hmoud explained.

The police chief stressed that “more security measures will be adopted in the near future to prevent such unfortunate incidents from occurring”.

All the officials at the press conference urged the public and the media to refrain from circulating “rumours and false information because it raised fear among the public and at some point worked against the security operation that targeted the suspects since some people were broadcasting live and allowed the suspects to get a first-hand look at the movements of the security forces”.

Ghunaimat also criticised individuals who posted the names of the deceased officers and their picture describing it as an “inhumane gesture towards people who lost their lives for the sake of their country and also before their next of kin are notified”.

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