Jordan's King Abdullah II called together his security chiefs this week and ordered them to put all their resources behind an urgent crackdown against a rising terrorist threat, after two serious breaches caught them napping. He referred to the Jordanian triple agent Khalil Al-Balawi, who blew himself up at the CIA Forward Base Chapman in Afghanistan on Jan. 14, killing seven US agents and a Jordanian intelligence officer, and the roadside blasts which just missed Israeli diplomatic vehicles on a Jordanian road last Friday, Jan. 15
Their target was Israeli ambassador Daniel Nevo.
Western intelligence sources in the Gulf told debkafile that Abdullah hauled his security chiefs over the coals accusing them of allowing a deep Al Qaeda penetration of Jordan's General Intelligence Department (GID) in the person of Balawi, and ordering them to watch out for more like him. He rebuked them for the lax security in Jordan's capital and main roads, which enabled terrorists to plant roadside bombs. They were told to get their act together fast, because al Qaeda was no doubt preparing more attacks against Jordanian, US and Israeli targets in the kingdom – or even across the border into Israel.
It would not be the first time.
On Nov. 20, 2003, an al Qaeda gunman broke through Jordanian guards and began shooting at tourists passing through the Araba crossing near the Israeli port of Eilat. An Ecuadoran woman was killed and four others were injured. Two years later, on Aug. 19, 2005, missiles launched from Jordan hit Eilat and US warships docked in the Jordanian port of Aqaba. They immediately put out to sea.
debkafile's counter-terror sources report that King Abdullah's scolding has had at least one result. Jordan's five leading Salafi preachers, whose fatwas are respected by al Qaeda and other Islamist organizations as their religious authority for terrorist acts, were summoned to GID headquarters for an ultimatum: Sign an edict banning suicide attacks in Jordan or anywhere else in the world or go to prison.
The imams agreed to sign the new fatwas which also included a prohibition on calling any Muslim leaders apostates and relegated sole authority for the issue of edicts to government-appointed clerics.
Our sources strongly doubt that the five al Qaeda imams will abide by their undertaking or that the Hashemite Kingdom will be spared more terror.