British tourist killed in Amman attack

Gunman opens fire at group of tourists from New Zealand, Holland and the UK.

amman attack 298 (photo credit: )
amman attack 298
(photo credit: )
One week after Jordan's parliament approved anti-terror legislation to address terrorism, a British tourist was killed when a terrorist opened fire at a group of tourists in the center of Amman on Monday morning. The attack took place at around 10:30 a.m. as the tourists were preparing to leave the Greco-Roman amphitheater, a busy attraction in downtown Amman. Shouting "Allahu Akbar" [God is greatest!], the terrorist opened fire at the tourists from a high place in the amphitheater. A Jordanian government spokesman said that five other tourists - two British women, one Australian woman, one New Zealand woman and a Dutch man - were injured in the attack as well as their Jordanian tour guide. In addition, a Jordanian policeman was moderately injured in the attack. The gunman was identified as Nabil Jaourah, a Jordanian citizen of Palestinian origin from the town of Zarqa. Security officials in Amman said they were not aware of any connections between the terrorist and extremist groups like al-Qaeda. However, they stressed that the working assumption of the security forces was that this was a terror attack. The attacker was disarmed by tourist police as he tried to flee the scene after firing every round in his 9 mm. pistol. A witness said two street cleaners from Amman Municipality who were in the area helped police arrest the terrorist. "The suspect is in the hands of the security forces, who are questioning him to determine who's behind him and whether he has accomplices," said one security official. "The investigation is still in its early stages and there will be more arrests in the coming hours." Jordan's Interior Minister, Eid Fayez, told reporters that the gunman apparently acted alone. "We don't know if he had any partners but certainly this was a terror attack," he said. The attack is the first of its kind in Amman since November 9, 2005 when suicide bombings on three hotels killed 60 people. The attacks were claimed by the al-Qaeda in Iraq group then led by the Jordanian-born arch-terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi. Following the attacks, the Jordanian government endorsed a series of measures to combat Muslim fundamentalists. Last week the parliament approved anti-terror legislation that criminalizes a wide range of behavior as acts of terror, including financing, interacting with or recruiting for any terrorist group, and possessing, making, or transporting any material that can be used to produce chemical weapons. The law, which has drawn sharp criticism from Muslim organizations and opposition figures, grants military courts sole jurisdiction over terrorism claims and permits security officials to carry out surveillance of terrorism suspects. A provision allowing the police to detain suspects for 30 days, at which point suspects must be either charged or released, has also prompted criticism from human rights groups. Jordan's parliament also approved a law that gives the government the authority to appoint mosque preachers. The move is aimed at preventing extremists from taking over the mosques and using them as a platform for incitement to violence.