Jordanian escalation against ISIS may lead to surge in terror attacks in Kingdom

Islamic State is probably going to try to retaliate, though it will not be able to invade the Kingdom as it did Iraq, expert says.

February 6, 2015 09:10
2 minute read.
Jordan and the Islamic State

Jordanian protesters hold up pictures of Jordanian King Abdullah and Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh, as they chant slogans during a rally in Amman to show their loyalty to the King and against the Islamic State, February 5, 2015.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Jordan’s move to intensify its military operations against Islamic State in response to the burning alive of its air force pilot may lead to terrorist attacks in the kingdom.

Jordanian fighter jets struck Islamic State targets in Syria on Thursday, a day after King Abdullah called for more action against the group.

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Islamic State is not an organization likely to take heavier attacks by a neighboring Muslim government lightly, nor the execution of two prisoners it had previously demanded in exchange for the Jordanian pilot.

Islamic State already offered a reward on Wednesday to anyone who kills or wounds a Jordanian pilot, the Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor of MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) reported.

“The Islamic State’s Shura Council offers a reward to anyone killing or wounding a Jordanian pilot and preventing him from flying as part of the Crusader coalition that is attacking Muslims in the Islamic State,” said the statement posted on an Islamic State affiliated Twitter account.

Also posted was a list of 52 Jordanian pilots and their addresses, ranks, and jobs, whose identities were allegedly given by the murdered pilot Mouath al-Kasaesbeh, according to the report.

Islamic State has supporters in Jordan, even if their numbers are not too numerous.

Jordan hanged two Iraqi jihadists, one a woman, on Wednesday and vowed to intensify military action against Islamic State.

“We are waging this war to protect our faith, our values and human principles and our war for their sake will be relentless and will hit them in their own ground,” state television quoted the king as saying during a security meeting.

Jordan, which is part of the US-led alliance, had promised an “earthshaking response” to the killing of its pilot, Kasaesbeh, who was captured when his F-16 crashed.

Ala’ Alrababa’h, an Amman native and expert on Jordan based in Washington, told The Jerusalem Post that he is not sure the country would go as far as sending ground troops to fight against Islamic State, “but the country is clearly intensifying its fighting against IS and this will likely increase with time.”

Islamic State is probably going to try to retaliate, though it will not be able to invade the kingdom as it did Iraq, he said.

More likely, says Alrababa’h, is attempts to carry out bomb attacks inside Jordan, perhaps from Islamic State cells undetected in the country.

The horrific killing of Kasaesbeh has led to a loss of support for the terrorist group even among its traditional Salafi base, he said.

Whether such attacks would be successfully carried out is another question, said Alrababa’h, speculating that the country’s intelligence has likely been focusing on this issue for some time.

Many Jordanians have rallied behind the king and Kasaesbeh’s family, but Islamists in the country have not been swayed, and remain a base from which support for Islamic State could come.

Even the country’s Muslim Brotherhood faction, which is more pragmatic than jihadist groups such as al-Qaida and Islamic State, refuses to call the latter a terrorist group.

In a Jordanian TV interview earlier this week with the country’s Brotherhood leader Hamza Mansour, and reported by MEMRI, he refused to call Islamic State a terrorist organization.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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