Jordanian Security Forces Killed during Raid on Terrorist Cell in Salt

Four members of the Jordanian security forces have been killed during a raid on a militant hideout in Salt. Five suspects were also arrested during the raid in connection with the bomb that exploded under a patrol car at a music festival in the town of Fuheis

Photo: AP

A vehicle belonging to the Jordanian gendarmerie was hit by an explosion on August 10, 2018, leaving one sergeant dead and six other security personnel wounding. The Interior Ministry said the bomb was planted in an area where a gendarmerie vehicle usually stops during an ongoing music festival in the town of Fuheis, a mostly Christian town located 12 kilometers west of the capital.

The Fuheis festival is an annually held event in Jordan and is considered the second largest festival in the country after the Jerash Festival. Security forces had been deployed to protect the festival, which hosts prominent Arab music acts.

Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Al-Razzaz said that “Jordan will always be at the forefront of the fight against terrorism and obscurantist ideas which target the lives of innocents and try to undermine security and stability.”

Militants from Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and other radical jihadist groups have long targeted the kingdom and dozens of militants are currently serving long prison terms. 

The Raid in Salt

Following intense and delicate investigations, Jordanian forces laid siege to a building in a residential part of Salt Governorate that was believed to be the hideout of the suspects responsible for the bomb attack.

The suspects reportedly refused to surrender and instead started shooting at the force that surrounded their building. The suspects rigged the building with explosives and detonated them when the police stormed in.

Security forces pulled the bodies of three suspected militants from the wreckage of the building. Jordan said that at least four security servicemen were killed and several others were injured during the raid.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bomb blast. Jordanian Interior Minister Sameer al-Mobaideen said three terrorists were killed and others were detained during the Salt raid. He added that those detained have a takfirist ideology. He also said that the operation revealed that there were other terror schemes to attack security posts, adding that security forces found explosives which the terror cell had hidden in Salt.

King Abdullah of Jordan said his country would hold all those accountable for undermining the security of the Kingdom and the safety of its citizens. He expressed his condolences to the Jordanian families of the security forces and paid tribute to the officers killed on duty, describing their sacrifices as “heroic and highly honorable.”

Terror Attacks in Jordan

In January 2018, Jordan said it had foiled an ISIS plot that included plans for a series of attacks in November 2017 on security installations, shopping malls, and moderate religious figures, state media reported. The country's intelligence department had arrested 17 members of the cell and confiscated weapons and explosives that the militant group had planned to use in the operation.

On December 18, 2016, four gunmen carried out a series of attacks in and around the mountainous Jordanian city of Karak. A police patrol was responding to calls of a house fire in the town of Qatraneh in the Karak district when assailants began shooting at the officers from within the house, wounding two officers. The gunmen drove away from the house and attacked a police station in Karak, where they wounded several police officers and bystanders.

The gunmen then stormed the 12th century Crusader castle in Karak. From the castle, the terrorists opened fire on a number of public security personnel and passers-by in Karak. A Jordanian joint security force tackled the gunmen and concluded the operation after killing four terrorists.

The Public Security Department (PSD) and the Gendarmerie Department said seven of their personnel were killed in the attack, in addition to two civilians and a Canadian citizen, while 11 PSD personnel, 4 Gendarmerie members, 17 citizens and two foreigners were injured.

On November 4, 2016, three US military trainers were shot dead when their car was fired on by a Jordanian army member at the gate of at the gate of Prince Faisal airbase in the south of the country. Washington disputed the official Jordanian account that they were shot at for failing to stop and said it did not rule out political motives.

On June 27, 2016, a suicide bomber killed seven Jordanian soldiers and wounded 13 others on the Syrian border. According to the Jordanian Army, the suicide bomber set off from the makeshift Syrian refugee camp near the Rukban crossing in Jordan's remote northeast. He then entered Jordanian territory through an opening used for humanitarian aid deliveries and blew himself up as he reached a military post. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack on the jihadist-linked news agency Amaq.

On June 6, 2016, five Jordanian security officials were killed when a gunman opened fire on the intelligence department's office at the Baqaa Palestinian refugee camp. The attacker was subsequently arrested. The attack took place on the first day of Ramadan and shook Jordan. Amman's state security court sentenced Mahmud Masharfeh to death by hanging for his terrorist act against the intelligence agency.

On November 9, 2015, police Captain Anwar Abu Zaid killed two American security contractors, a South African security contractor, and two Jordanians at the Jordan International Police Training Center near Amman. Four Jordanians, two Americans, and one Lebanese citizen were also wounded. Jordanian security forces shot and killed Zaid, who worked as a trainer at the center.

Summary

Jordan's King Abdullah II has managed to keep his country comparatively quiet and stable, and widely seen as an oasis of stability in the volatile Middle East. Jordan has played a key role in the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State in neighboring Syria and Iraq, using its air force and allowing coalition forces to use its bases. Jordan is considered an important security ally, particularly by the United States and Israel.

In March 2018, Jordan and the US unveiled a counter-terrorism training center. The center in Suwaqah was funded, constructed, and equipped through the US Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program.

The Jordanian security forces are well trained and well equipped, and Jordan can defend itself, but in the worst-case scenario, Jordan can also draw on strategic support from its powerful allies, namely the US and Israel, with whom it shares a mutual interest in combating terrorism.

 

[Sources: Al Arabiya (1,2), Arab News (1,2), The Jordan Times, Haaretz]

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