Amman, Asharq Al-Awsat—Jordanian authorities have launched a crackdown on alleged supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Al-Nusra Front, arresting more than 40 suspects on Monday and Tuesday.
The arrests are thought to be a precautionary measure, and come in response to recent developments in Iraq and Syria.
A security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat:“These arrests are part of Jordan’s continuing efforts to pursue people who are affiliated to terrorist organizations, arrest them and refer them to the judiciary, according to anti-terrorism laws.”
He added that the arrests were “precautionary measures to stop others joining these organizations which follow the takfirist ideology.”
Musa Al-Abdallat, a lawyer for the Salafist Movement in Jordan, said 46 members of the movement had been arrested this week after declaring their support for ISIS.
Abdallat added that the arrests began in the town of Rusaifa, northeast of Amman, following a demonstration in support of ISIS. The demonstration began outside the home of the spiritual leader of the Salafist Movement in Jordan, Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, who recently criticized the group.
The security forces disrupted the demonstration and arrested seven protesters, he added.
Abdallat said the arrest campaign spread to other towns and cities, including Irbid, Salt, Zarqa and Ma’an, as well as the Baqa’a refugee camp north of Amman, and that most of the detainees were supporters of ISIS.
He said: “The division between ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front in Syria has had a negative effect on the Salafist Movement in Jordan, although many of its leading figures supported ISIS.”
Salafist leaders condemned the security forces’ actions, issuing a statement which claimed that “[the] harassment of supporters of the jihadist ideology in Jordan was taking place under the orders of foreign countries.”
A senior member of the Salafist Movement, Mohammad Al-Shalabi Abu Sayyaf, told Asharq Al-Awsat that those arrested included Abu Omar Al-Gharaibeh and Sha’er Al-Zuuhairi in Irbid, Ayman Abu Al-Rub in Jerash, Mu’tazz Khalaileh in Zarqa and Ahmed Al-Almani in Rusaifa, and that some of those arrested had subsequently been released.
He said: “We asked those released about the reasons for their arrest. They said the security officers questioned them about ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front, and about the supporters of these groups.” The security officers also warned them that they could face prosecution under new anti-terrorism laws, he added.
Jordan’s parliament recently approved a number of amendments to the country’s anti-terrorism laws, criminalizing attempts to join terrorist organizations or recruit on their behalf, as well as actions which exposed Jordan to hostile action, harmed its relations with other countries, or exposed Jordanians to the danger of reprisals.