ISIS attempts to Penetrate Jordanian BordersNovember 27, 2014 in ISIS, Jordan
25 November– ISIS has released photographs of a vehicle-borne IED (VBIED) being detonated at the Trebil border complex, near the Karameh border crossing with Jordan. The explosion took place in the Trebil, a village on the in the Anbar province in Iraq. The attack is believed to have killed four and wounded four members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). ISIS overtook the Trebil crossing on 22 June, but was retaken by the Iraqi military two days later. The crossing has remained a contested area.
In Jordan, the momentum of ISIS, coupled with supporters and sleeper cells believed to be inside the kingdom have sparked concerns that the group could enter the borders through “back door” channels. Thus far, it does not appear that ISIS has gained momentum. Jordanian leadership and security forces have developed military, diplomatic, and psychological tactics to repel or halt actions taken by ISIS supporters or fighters.
The Jordanian military is tasked with protecting the Hashemite Kingdom at any cost, and can act to protect national security without the approval of the King. In the past week, over 100 members of the Jordanian military and Special Operation Forces (SOF) have entered Iraq to prevent a forward advance by ISIS. The teams have conducted precision strikes and interrupted ISIS momentum. Inside Jordan’s borders, it is known that there are ISIS sleeper cells in the regions of Zarqa and Ma’an. Jordanian forces have tracked, detained, released, and released suspects, and they remain under watch for collaboration with the terrorist group.
The military has also employed foreign help. Israel is providing overhead imagery to Jordan to use in its fight against ISIS on its borders. On Thursday, the French government deployed six Mirage fighter jets to assist in the ongoing battle. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that the deployment would “strengthen our presence in this theater of operations.” The French fighters are expected to join the Jordanian forces at the end of the month.
Diplomatically, Jordanian leadership is working with Chechen leaders in Grozny to seek and capture ISIS fighters. In mid-November, King Abdullah II went to met with Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov to discuss counterterrorism issues. A Jordanian official revealed that the leaders reached an agreement: Jordan will invest in Chechnya’s infrastructure, and in exchange, the Chechens will provide information on Chechens and North Caucasians tied to ISIS and other groups in the Syrian battle space. Captured fighters will be returned to Chechnya for prosecution.
Finally, the Jordanian government is developing a counter narrative campaign against ISIS. The nation has employed two powerful clerics, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, also known as Isam Mohammad Taher al-Barqawi, and Abu Qatada, aka Omar Othman. Maqdisi, who was released from Jordanian prison in mid-November, inspired Abu Musab al-Zarqawi , the al-Qaeda leader during the height of the Iraq War. Qatada was transferred from the UK to Jordan in 2013 in order to stand trial for terrorism acts in Jordan. Both clerics have spoken out against the conflict and will likely be used, along with others in an information campaign. However, they will be watched carefully to ensure that the counter narrative does not impose an additional threat vector.
ISIS is attempting to destabilise current governments in order to capture infrastructure and territory, while simultaneously playing on sectarian battles in the region. Jordan’s three pronged approach is likely to keep ISIS at bay in the immediate to mid-term range, but will rely heavily on actions taken by Kurdish, Iraqi, and coalition forces to reduce the threat.