Country Reports on Terrorism 2007 - Jordan

In its public statements, new legislation, security measures, and court cases, the Government of Jordan continued to place a high priority on its fight against extremism and terrorism. Those efforts coincided with an apparent shift in public opinion against extremism as reflected in poll results. The 2007 Pew Research Center Global Attitudes survey indicated a marked turn against support for terrorism among Jordanians. Only a fifth of respondents expressed any confidence in Usama bin Ladin (down from 56 percent four years ago), and fewer than a quarter viewed suicide bombing as justified (down from 43 percent in 2002, and from 57 percent in 2005). A common view among commentators was that antipathy toward extremism increased since terrorists killed 60 Jordanians in attacks on three hotels in Amman in 2005. According to the Pew data, while worries about terrorism fell in many countries since 2002, in Jordan concerns were up nearly threefold, from 15 percent to 42 percent.

King Abdullah used international fora, national addresses, and media interviews to denounce extremists and promote a tolerant, moderate brand of Islam. Speaking before the opening session of the new parliament in December, for example, the King promised to combat extremist Islam and "stand up to anybody who tries to abduct our religion or to monopolize fatwas for political reasons, for the purpose of using religion as a tool to subdue others for the sake of special or suspicious agenda."

Parliament passed new anti-money laundering legislation that began to address a key law enforcement deficiency in what is otherwise a strong counterterrorism environment. The new law, which went into effect in July, created an Anti-Money Laundering Unit (AMLU) that is the central receiving point for all suspicious transaction reports related to money laundering. Although the law did not specify terrorism and terrorism financing as a predicate offense for money laundering, the AMLU believes it will be able to resolve these ambiguities through the issuance of regulations and Central Bank of Jordan instructions to obligated entities. This approach has not yet been tested in the courts.

Jordan's security forces remained vigilant against terror threats. For example, the General Intelligence Directorate in February arrested members of al-Qa'ida in Iraq (AQI) who were attempting to infiltrate from Syria. Another member was killed in an armed confrontation in Irbid in January. Additionally, Jordan's State Security Court (SSC), a special tribunal for terrorism and other cases that had both civilian and military judges and attorneys, maintained a heavy caseload. Examples of SSC actions included:

  • In November, it ratified a prior ruling against two men who were convicted of plotting to launch an attack on Israel via the Jordanian border.
  • In September, 16 people were convicted and given prison terms ranging from 20 months to five years for recruiting people to fight Americans in Iraq and carry out suicide attacks. Five of them, including Fatah al-Islam leader Shaker al-Absi, were tried in absentia.
  • In August, five men were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 20 months to five years after being convicted of plotting acts that undermine Jordan's relations with another country and subjecting the country to hostile acts.
  • In July, two men were given prison sentences for plotting to kill Americans in Jordan "to avenge U.S. policies toward Muslims."
  • In April, sentences were handed to six men who plotted AQ-linked terrorist attacks at Queen Alia International Airport and hotels in Aqaba and the Dead Sea.

The SSC continued to review the cases in the trial of the defendants accused of plotting to assassinate President Bush during his November 2006 visit to Jordan. The three Zarqa residents, Nidal Momani, Sattam Zawahra, and Tharwat Daraz, stand accused of conspiracy to carry out terrorist attacks with flammable substances in Jordan, and of possession of illegal weapons and explosive substances for illicit purposes.

Additionally, in January, the Court of Cassation upheld the death sentence imposed on would-be suicide bomber Sajida Rishawi, who, in 2006 was convicted of plotting terrorist attacks against three hotels in Amman; she was the first woman to receive the death penalty in a terror-related trial in Jordan.


This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.