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Jordan’s fight against terrorism, extremism: A successful strategy, ongoing challenges

Jun 28,2024 - Last updated at Jun 28,2024

In recent decades, Jordan has witnessed a low but consistent rate of terrorist activities, compared to other countries in the region.

Over the past 30 years, there have been an average of two terrorist attacks per year, reflecting the security challenges facing Jordan.

According to the Global Terrorism Index issued by the Centre for Economics and Peace in Australia for 2020, Jordan ranked 57th globally among low-threat areas.

On November 9, 2005, three hotels in Amman were attacked by suicide bombers, killing 60 people and wounding 115 others.

This attack was one of the bloodiest attacks in the history of Jordan and was carried out by Al Qaeda in Iraq, led by Abu Musab Al Zarqawi.

Authorities responded quickly, arresting and bringing to justice those responsible for the attacks.

It also launched a comprehensive anti-terrorism campaign, which included strengthening security measures and developing anti-terrorism capabilities.

On December 18, 2016, the city of Karak was subjected to a terrorist attack that killed 10 people, including a Canadian tourist, and injured others.

The terrorists holed up in Karak Castle, but Jordanian security forces succeeded in eliminating the attackers and freeing the hostages.

After this attack, the authorities increased their efforts to enhance security in tourist areas and develop the capabilities of special forces to confront such threats.

As of the end of December 2020, Jordan recorded 133 terrorist operations.

Despite these challenges, Jordan succeeded in achieving significant progress in combating terrorism, and the year 2020 was exceptional as the country did not witness any terrorist operations for the first time since 2011.

Among the factors for the success of combating terrorism was the adoption of Jordan seeks to strengthen legislation and laws that criminalise terrorist activities and prevent their financing. The security and intelligence services have also been strengthened to be able to deal with terrorist threats effectively.

Jordan also participates in the international coalition to combat ISIS and cooperates with neighboring countries and the international community in exchanging intelligence information and strengthening security measures.

Jordan focused on education and awareness to promote moderate thought and reject extremism, which contributed to reducing the spread of terrorist thought.

In June 2020, the Jordanian General Intelligence Service thwarted three terrorist operations planned by Daesh. The first targeted the intelligence building in the city of Zarqa using explosives and light weapons.

The second targeted the staff of the Northern Irbid Security Centre with light weapons. The third planned to attack a liquor store and the Armenian Orthodox church in Amman using machine guns.

The General Intelligence Department also thwarted hundreds of terrorist operations before they occurred.

Also, the year 2020 witnessed a decline in Daesh activity, as the number of members belonging to the organisation decreased from 1,250 to 750 members due to the return of some of them to Jordan and the killing of others on the battlefields.

Jordan also faces future challenges. Although terrorist activities declined in 2020, the threat remains.

Jordan must continue its security efforts and enhance international cooperation to meet future challenges.

Civil society must also be involved in combating extremist ideology and promoting awareness and tolerance.

In 2024, the areas of Southern Marka and Qweismeh in Amman, Jordan, witnessed the thwarting of terrorist bombings that attempted to undermine Jordan’s security and stability, but failed due to security vigilance.

Security forces were able to respond quickly, as they initiated extensive investigations to arrest the perpetrators of the attacks and ensure that they were not repeated, strengthening their security measures to protect citizens.

Jordan remains a role model in combating terrorism and extremism thanks to its comprehensive strategies and international cooperation, with continuing challenges that require constant vigilance and continuous development of security and educational measures.

Hasan Dajah is a professor of strategic studies - Al Hussein Bin Talal University

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