The Islamist Threat to Jordan

(Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Nibras Kazimi - The elusiveness of a unifying Jordanian identity now provides a window of opportunity for the jihadists, for whom Jordan is to be the "Land of Mobilization and Fortitude" - the staging ground for the liberation of Palestine and the destruction of Israel. Alienated Jordanian citizens of Palestinian origin (who form the majority of the population according to most estimates) will always be vulnerable to an agenda that politically agitates for a return to the Palestinian homeland through armed struggle. For an increasing number of Palestinians, Hamas has ceased to be militant enough, and they will seek out an alternative organization through which to channel their militancy. This trend will probably be mirrored among Palestinians in Jordan as well, with many finding their way to al-Qaeda, or setting up home-grown and organizationally-independent (and thus harder to track) al-Qaeda affiliates. There is a historical precedent for this: young Palestinian Muslim Brothers - such as Abu Iyad, Yasser Arafat, and Abu Jihad - left the organization to train and fight under the auspices of new groups like Fatah in the 1960s that gave vent to their militancy. The convergence of the "global jihad," conducted by organizations such as al-Qaeda, with the concept of "local jihad," that was the niche of homegrown militants such as Hamas, is something of a homecoming for the traditional presence of Palestinians within the ranks of Islamic extremists fighting far beyond their borders. Palestinians now have the opportunity to serve their own cause - the convenience of being a "good" global jihadist and a "good" Palestinian nationalist both at once. Zarqawi has vowed to cut off the head of King Abdullah II. The Iraq phase has taught many Palestinians and Jordanians fighting skills, who may have returned to Jordan. Today, these experienced elements pose the most direct threat to Jordan's security.

2006-05-26 00:00:00

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