After the Islamic State succeeded in downing a Russian airliner that took off from Sharm El-Sheikh on October 31, causing the deaths of all 224 passengers and crew, the terrorist organization Monday, Nov. 9, put a US military target in its crosshairs. A captain in the Jordanian police opened fire in the cafeteria of the Special Operations Training Center outside the Jordanian capital, Amman, where American instructors train Iraqi troops to fight ISIS. Two trainers from the US, one from South Africa and two Jordanians were killed and another six wounded, including two more Americans and four Jordanians.
The gunman was killed by Jordanian troops.
The modus operandi resembled the “green on blue” insider attacks committed in Afghanistan by al Qaeda and Taliban “insiders” against American and British troops serving at the same base.
Jordan’s Al-Rai newspaper identified the shooter as Anwar Abu Ubayd, but other news outlets said his name was Anwar Abu Zaid.
If the downing of the Russian plane rocked the regime of Egyptian President Fattah El-Sisi, there is no doubt that Monday’s attack will shake King Abdullah’s Hashemite throne.
The attack, furthermore, demonstrated that ISIS is rapidly approaching Israel’s borders with Syria in the north, Egypt in the south and Jordan in the east. The assault gained particular attention as it was carried out just hours before the summit Monday between Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington.
They met for the first time after more than a year and after a major row over the Iranian nuclear accord. Both leaders made statements strongly indicating that they had determinedly buried the hatchet and were looking to the future of strong and amicable ties and expanded US support for Israel’s security.
A large part of their two-hour conversation was undoubtedly devoted to the threat posed by ISIS, on which they concur.
Until now, Jordan had been home to the most important and secure US forward base for the war on ISIS in Iraq and Syria. US air strikes come from bases in Turkey, but more than 10,000 ground troops and special operations forces troops are present in Jordan. The kingdom serves as a training, operations and logistical center for US missions in Iraq and Syria, and for that purpose a command center, the US Central Command Forward-Jordan, was established outside Amman.
Until now, ISIS had not managed to infiltrate Jorda for attacks capable of destabilizing Abdullah’s rule. Numerous infiltration and terrorist attacks were thwarted by Jordanian intelligence and security. The Jordanian authorities focused primarily on keeping the jihads out of the refugee camps housing Syrians and Iraqis in flight from war zones, but this came at the expense of efforts to block the threat from reaching inside the Hashemite kingdom and its security facilities.
Their first success will no doubt embolden ISIS to keep on pressing its advantage. Immediately following Monday’s shooting, Jordan’s military went into high alert nationwide and along its borders. The US, Russia, Egypt, Jordan and Israel are all boosting their vigilance as the threat from ISIS continues to grow. But no one can reliably predict where the Islamist terrorists strike next.