Overview: In 2012, Jordan remained a steadfast partner in counterterrorism. In addition to its diplomatic and political assistance to the Israel-Palestinian peace process, Jordan assisted the Palestinian Authority's continued development of state institutions through law enforcement training programs at the Jordan International Police Training Center (JIPTC). JIPTC-trained forces continued to earn the respect of regional actors for their success in maintaining security in the West Bank.
The Jordanian government further developed its counterterrorism capabilities and improved its capacity. At the same time, the political reform process in Jordan initiated an open discussion of the country's security institutions, and Jordan wrestled with the challenge of making its security organizations more transparent while maintaining their effectiveness. Security institutions have stepped up vigilance as Jordan faced the threat of spillover violence from the conflict in Syria.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Jordan remained committed to securing its borders and denying safe haven to terrorists within the country for attacks against its neighbors. Jordan completed the first phase of the Jordan Border Security Program (JBSP) – a sophisticated package of sensors and barriers to help improve situational awareness and prevent illicit infiltration into Jordan or unauthorized transit out of the country. The JBSP is located along the country's northern border with Syria, an area that has historically been vulnerable to unmitigated cross-border transit.
Jordan remained an important partner nation in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program, which also supported an expansion of the capacity of the JIPTC to provide tactical skills training courses for up to 40 ATA partner nations.
Although they faced steady domestic demonstrations throughout the country, Jordanian security services remained alert and acted quickly to counter potential terrorist threats.
The State Security Court (SSC) is Jordan's primary judicial body for addressing national security threats. The SSC remained the topic of intense public discussion and parliamentary debate because SSC proceedings are not open to the general public and many civil society organizations consider the SSC's jurisdiction too broad and their procedures opaque. The Government of Jordan announced that it intends to amend the SSC law to ensure that the law is consonant with the constitutional amendments passed in September 2011; however, even if the parliament passes a law restricting the court's jurisdiction, the court would retain authority over issues regarding terrorism. Several significant cases were adjudicated during the course of the year, including:
In June, the Court of Cassation endorsed a State Security Court decision sentencing Salafi jihadist theorist, Isam Muhammad al-Utaybi, also known as Abu-Muhammad al-Maqdisi, to five years in prison. The SSC charged al-Maqdisi with plotting unsanctioned acts that would subject the kingdom to hostile acts, undermining Jordan's relations with another country, and recruiting persons inside the kingdom to join armed terrorist groups and organizations.
In November, the State Security Court heard evidence in the trial of the members of the takfiri terrorist group linked to the ideology of the al-Qa'ida organization, composed of 11 members under the name "Operation of the Second 9/11," a reference to the November date of attacks at Amman hotels in 2005. Jordanian security officials successfully foiled the terrorist plan that targeted commercial malls and diplomatic missions.
Regional and transnational terrorist groups, as well as local violent extremists, have demonstrated the willingness and ability to mount attacks in Jordan. In late October, Jordan's General Intelligence Department uncovered and foiled a major terrorist plot that targeted several shopping centers and cafes in Amman known to be frequented by diplomats and Westerners, as well as the U.S. Embassy. The highly sophisticated plot, orchestrated by members of al-Qa'ida in Iraq, who had recently operated in Syria, was designed to take place in several phases; first targeting commercial locations to draw the attention of security forces, and culminating in a complex attack on the U.S. Embassy involving vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, suicide bombers, and mortars. The plot was disrupted prior to the group moving to the operational phase. Jordanian authorities arrested all 11 members (all Jordanian citizens) believed to be involved.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Jordan is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body; its Financial Intelligence Unit joined the Egmont Group in 2012. Jordan actively volunteered to host training events, and hosted a number of anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism activities. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Jordan is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: Jordan has sought to confront and weaken the violent ideology that underpins al-Qa'ida and other radical organizations. Jordanian prisons have a religiously based de-radicalization program that seeks to re-engage violent extremist inmates into the peaceful mainstream of their faith. Based upon the individual needs of the inmate, this program can include basic literacy classes, employment counseling, and theological instruction.
The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, under the patronage of Prince Ghazi bin Mohammad, is Jordan's most important center promoting religious tolerance and coexistence. This institute continued its sponsorship of a series of ecumenical events promoting interfaith dialogue.