Many rumors are circulating in Amman about alleged terror threats to shopping malls and other public places in response to news that the kingdom’s air force has joined the US-led coalition in targeting Islamic State (IS) positions in Syria. No more is that evident than in posh west Amman with residents exchanging — mostly on social media — unconfirmed reports of emergency evacuation of shopping centers. The big question on everyone’s mind is how will IS retaliate against Jordan’s direct involvement in a growing regional and international coalition to degrade and destroy it. The Public Security Department (PSD) had to issue clarifications refuting rumors about potential terrorist threats. But government sources confirmed to Al-Monitor that a state of high alert has been declared affecting the armed forces and the PSD. Travelers to the southern port city of Aqaba, 350 kilometers (217 miles) from Amman, talked about multiple security checkpoints along the highway.
Jordanians are right to worry about possible reprisals. In November 2005, three Amman hotels were rattled by suicide attacks that left 60 people dead and more than 100 injured. The attacks were carried out by the al-Qaeda affiliate in Iraq led by Jordanian Abu Musab Zarqawi, who was later assassinated by the CIA. The memory of the Amman bombings is still fresh in many people’s minds.