Aug 26,2018 – JORDAN TIMES –
The recent attacks in Fuheis and Salt completely change the anti-terrorism battleground. The approach to anti-terrorism must be reevaluated given that we are dealing with terrorists who have managed to hide their radicalism by listening to music, smoking in coffee shops and even having non-veiled wives.
This appears to be a new approach in Jordan, with Jordanians planning and operating within our borders, suggesting that the risks are growing and thus counterterrorism operations must also change to be compatible with new challenges that could exist for some time as the conflict in Syria begins to wane.
These recent attacks appear to set a new battleground. Traditionally, the current phase has seen terrorists targeting military targets, which they consider illegitimate tyrant forces, but the festival in Fuheis was all civilian. It is also the first time to see a building being blown up and a suicide bomber ambushing security forces. The new battleground is a result of Jordanians returning from abroad with new terrorist skills and experience.
The incident in Salt demonstrated the highly effective nature of the anti-terrorism squad within the Jordanian General Intelligence Directorate, as it had analysed the Fuheis attack and identified the key people at a great pace. The response must be lauded and greater efforts must be given in similar fashion in the future. However, the high number of casualties amongst the security task force that responded to the terrorists suggests that Jordanian authorities should consider and review their security plans, training and tactics.
Any review at the intelligence and operational level should also consider the entire deradicalisation process. It is clear that all the conferences, seminars and money spent on strategies and plans to combat extremism and terrorism, including the establishment of the anti-extremism unit, have been in vain and had no real value. Those in charge should reconsider all the training programmes and anti-terrorism strategies.
The move by Prime Minister Omar Razzaz to establish an anti-extremism unit at the Prime Ministry to “expand its mandate and activate its contribution to the fight against radicalism” is highly important, but should take a wider national strategic approach. It is important to make the work of this unit clear and subject to transparency and accountability, while all underlying influencers who place obstacles in front of the work of this unit and the strategy should be sidelined immediately.
Moreover, those who will run the prime minister’s unit should be aware of the complexity and wide ranging nature of extremism. There needs to be a comprehensive vision that focuses on socioeconomic strategies and not on superficial rhetoric. This unit should coordinate with ministries, such as planning, labour, agriculture, culture, youth and social development in order to establish and implement its society-wide vision.
Jordan is facing a new wave of challenges in addition to its economic and security challenges, so it is time now more than ever before for efficient and effective solutions to the Kingdom’s current problems to be in a position to address future challenges.