Terrorist attacks have returned to Jordan, but this time on a more professional level than in the past (except for the 2005 Amman hotel bombings, which was a cross-border terrorist act planned and executed externally). A jihadi cell placed an explosive deviceunder a security car near the Fuheis Festival and then one of the cell members surprised the security forces that surrounded his house in Al-Salt by booby-trapping the house and detonating the bombs, resulting in the martyrdom of four anti-terror unit officers as well as the injury of more than 20.
Last year, although the General Intelligence Directorate announced the arrest of two cells consisting of approximately 40 people from one city, Al-Rusaifa, terrorist acts had stopped compared to the previous year (2016), which witnessed several unprecedented operations and confrontations between members of Daesh and the security forces. This had led to the death of dozens of security men and the wounding of others.
Those carrying out these terrorist attacks in 2016 and now in 2018 are young Jordanian jihadi men who are members of Daesh. This means they are purely local attacks and some have coordination connections to Daesh, but Daesh’s role is limitedto blessing, supporting and claiming these attacks. This tells us that the internal danger is bigger and more fatal than the external danger.
Moreover, a study we conducted at the Centre for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan, which was published in a book entitled “Sociologyof Extremism and Terrorism in Jordan”concluded that the size of the pro-Daesh jihadi movement in Jordan (there is also a movement supportive of the Nusra Front and Al-Qaeda) has doubled in the past few years and its nature has shifted from an individual male nature to a family nature. New phenomena have emerged such as the “jihadi brothers and sisters”, “female jihadis”, and “modern Jihadis”. The movement has also become more aggressive and violent with the security forces and army and their leaders have issued a fatwa ordering them not to surrender themselves, which explains the confrontations and clashes during the arrests taking place in recent years.
Why do they become extremists and terrorists? This is an important and vital question, but the answer to it is complex, not simple, and is debateable. However, through our study and the revision of other studies, we can certainly find key words. The most prominent of these key words are frustrated and marginalised youth, negative energy created by the absence of institutions and structures that can employ young people in the right setting, and the failure of Arab countries and their governments to face internal and external challenges, such as the destruction, killing of millions of civilians, and the sectarian, religious and ideological identity policies that lead to violent reactions that we have seen in Syria and Iraq.
It is true that these movements and the individuals affiliated with them are largely ignorant, in the sense that their goals and means (which include bombs) only lead to disasters. However, on the other hand, what booby-trapped the Arab societies and the lives of these young people and led them down crooked, wrong and dangerous paths, are the Arab regimes and governments that failed to build societies based on the values of freedom, justice, democracy and employment. Therefore, the result was a society of disappointed and frustrated individuals looking for an escape from reality, but they found a catastrophic, bloody and suicidal escape!
Once again, the end of Daesh does not mean, in any shape or form, the end of this school of thought, because we live in completely booby-trapped societies, and the ones who set these traps are Daesh members. They are the reason for planting the political, economic, social and cultural booby-traps in our societies, and these are the truly dangerous booby-traps. Hence the objective, logical and real question seems to be: Who booby-trapped whom? Who spread ignorance and frustration amongst the generation of Arab youth, which has become an easy prey? It only takes a few months for them to become “booby-trapped” by the organisation, which itself is a legitimate son of this deteriorating reality. If the organisation relies on suicide bombers and booby-traps, it is not far from official suicide policies that governed the Arab countries over the past decades and continue to do so.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Araby Al-jadeedon 14 August 2018
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.