Overview: Jordan remained a committed partner on counterterrorism and countering violent extremism in 2017. As a regional leader in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Jordan played an important role in Coalition successes in degrading the terrorist group's territorial control and operational reach. Although Jordan experienced a decrease in terrorist activity in 2017 compared to the previous year, the country faced a continued threat posed by terrorist groups, both domestically and along its borders. Jordanian security forces thwarted several plots and apprehended numerous terrorists. Following several high-profile attacks in 2016, Jordan took important steps to improve coordination among the security services for terrorism response capabilities and prevented several terrorist attacks.

Jordan remained a target for terrorist groups (including ISIS and al-Qa'ida) for several reasons, including its proximity to regional conflicts in Iraq and Syria, the state's official rejection of Salafi-Jihadi interpretations of Islam, and its membership in the Defeat-ISIS Coalition. Terrorist entities continued to express interest in attacking soft targets, such as high-profile public events, hotels, tourist sites, places of worship, restaurants, schools, and malls.

In June, the Border Guard Force engaged and killed three attackers on motorcycles attempting to enter Jordan from Syria near the Rukban border camp.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: There were no significant changes since 2016 on counterterrorism legislation, law enforcement capacity, or the State Security Court (SSC).

During 2017, Jordanian authorities took legal action against numerous individuals accused of terrorism under Jordanian law, including rulings on previous years' cases of terrorism. State Security Court verdicts related to terrorism are published almost daily in local media. Among the most notable cases is the conviction of several terrorists arrested in a preemptive 2016 raid on a suspected ISIS safehouse in Irbid. The operation lasted 12 hours and resulted in the death of one JAF officer and seven suspected terrorists. Some of the more prominent cases follow:

  • On September 13, the SSC convicted 17 defendants of attempting to join terrorist organizations including ISIS and al-Nusrah Front, and promoting the ideology of a terrorist group. The sentences ranged between three and 15 year prison terms.

  • On October 4, the SSC sentenced 11 people to hard labor ranging between three and five years for promoting terrorist ideology and attempting to join terrorist groups. The court also convicted two women of terrorist recruiting and promoting ISIS ideologies.

  • On December 4, the SSC convicted five Syrians of aiding ISIS to carry out a 2016 car bomb attack near the Rukban border camp, which killed seven Jordanian border guards. One was sentenced to the death penalty, three to lifetime sentences of hard labor, and the fifth was cleared of terrorism-related charges, but sentenced to two years imprisonment for illegal entry and exit into the country. Four admitted receiving monthly payments from ISIS. The defendant sentenced to death filmed the attack on his mobile phone and shared the footage with ISIS.

  • The SSC prosecuted several other individuals in 2017 for propagating ISIS ideology and affiliation with a terrorist organization. Sentences for such cases typically ranged from two- to 15-year prison terms.

There were no significant changes on border security since 2016. The Jordan-Iraq border crossing at Karama/Treybil reopened on August 30, 2017. Jordan conducts official screening of travelers at Ports of Entry, including at airports, and uses biometric systems in line with international standards.

Throughout 2017, Jordanian security services disrupted a number of terrorist plots in various stages of operational planning. Examples included a proposed attack at the Marka Military Airport in Amman with a suicide belt, a plot to down a U.S. aircraft at Marka with a rocket-propelled grenade, proposed attacks on a military bus and tourist sites, and plans to kidnap tourists at the Roman theater in downtown Amman.

A U.S. criminal complaint was unsealed in March charging Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi, a Jordanian national in her mid-30s, with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. nationals outside the United States resulting in death. The charge is related to her participation in an August 9, 2001, suicide bomb attack at a restaurant in Jerusalem that killed 15 people, including two U.S. nationals. Four other U.S. nationals were among the approximately 122 others injured in the attack. Also unsealed was a warrant for Al-Tamimi's arrest and an affidavit in support of the criminal complaint and arrest warrant. Jordan's courts have ruled that their constitution forbids the extradition of Jordanian nationals.

The Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program provided four mentors for a three-year program to support enhancing the Government of Jordan's law enforcement capabilities. One mentor was assigned to the Public Security Directorate's Criminal Investigation Department, one to its Forensics Lab, and two to its K-9 Unit.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Jordan is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body, and is also a member of the Coalition's Counter-ISIS Finance Group. Jordan's financial intelligence unit, the Anti Money Laundering and Counter Terrorist financing Unit (AMLU Jordan), is a member of the Egmont Group. There were no significant changes in Jordan's countering the financing of terrorism regime since 2016. The number of suspicious transaction reports received by AMLU Jordan in 2017 was on track to exceed 2016, with 590 suspicious transaction reports through November 29, compared to 602 in all of 2016. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): King Abdullah II continued to promote his "Amman Message" of 2004, calling for tolerance and peace within the Islamic community and rejecting "wanton aggression and terrorism." The Jordanian government's CVE efforts included counter-messaging and religious education, awareness-raising, and rehabilitation support for former terrorists. Jordan worked with the UN Development Program to create a National Strategy on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism, with the goal of establishing roles and responsibilities for government entities and promoting the involvement of non-governmental organizations, civil society, and the private sector. The Jordanian government took steps to centralize training of imams and messaging for Friday prayers in an effort to forestall what it viewed as radical versions of Islam. The Jordanian cities Karak and Zarqa are members of the Strong Cities Network.

International and Regional Cooperation: Jordan is a major non-North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally and founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), is part of NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue, and is a member of the Arab League and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation. Jordan co-chairs the GCTF Foreign Terrorist Fighter working group with the United States.

In 2017, King Abdullah hosted international leaders for two sessions of the Aqaba Process, a forum he launched in 2015 to maintain international and regional cooperation in the fight against terrorism. These meetings focused on Southeast Asia and West Africa.

Jordan hosted the meeting of the Small Group of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS on November 15.

Jordan hosted and conducted training for Palestinian Authority Security Forces and Civil Defense, in addition to other police forces from around the region.


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