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Assessing Trends in the Terrorist Threats Against Jordan and Its Counterterrorism Measures

By Dr. Joshua Sinai

As of late 2018, Jordan faced significant terrorist threats, primarily from Islamic State-linked militants, whether domestic- or foreign-based, who regarded the moderate and pro-Western Hashemite Kingdom as illegitimate. This threat was exacerbated by the spillover from the protracted civil war in Syria, whose massive internal population displacement led to an influx of estimated 1.4 million Sunni Syrian refugees into Jordan, which has an estimated population of 9.9 million. Many of the Syrian refugees were housed in the temporary Zaatari camp, with others scattered around the country, with little prospect for their future, and with a minority of them jihadi militants who were exploiting their safe haven to prepare for future terrorist activities in the country.

Additional sources of terrorist militancy sprung from the country’s estimated 2.2 million Palestinians (with an estimated 370,000 living in 10 refugee camps), with a minority adherents of Salafi Jihadism or the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood (JMB), which was also affiliated with the Palestinian Hamas. This Jordanian branch of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood also represented a significant anti-regime movement. Both the Salafi Jihadists and the JMB regarded the Hashemite monarchy.

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