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Jordan thwarts Iran-linked weapons plot as Hamas denies involvement

Iran and its proxies have threatened Jordan since the start of the Gaza war, including in relation to the kingdom helping shoot down missiles the Islamic Republic fired at Israel.
AHMAD SHOURA/AFP via Getty Images

Jordan has thwarted a suspected Iranian plot to smuggle weapons into the kingdom, according to a report on Wednesday, as the Gaza war and West Bank turmoil top Jordanian concerns when it comes to regional and internal security.

The weapons were reportedly sent by Iran-backed militias in Syria to a Muslim Brotherhood cell in Jordan with links to Hamas, Reuters reported, citing unnamed Jordanian sources. The weapons were seized after the arrest of members of the cell in late March. The plot was designed to help opponents of the monarchy carry out acts of sabotage, according to the outlet.

The Muslim Brotherhood is an Islamist organization with a presence throughout the Arab world, including in Jordan. Hamas is an offshoot of the group.

Videos emerged on Jordanian social media purportedly showing the weapons as the hashtag "Jordan First" trended in Arabic: 

Shortly after the report, Hamas denied any connection to acts of “subversion” in Jordan, its affiliated Safa news agency said.

Why it matters: The report is not the first to implicate Iran in smuggling arms through Jordan. The New York Times reported in April that the Islamic Republic was transferring weapons to Palestinian armed groups in the West Bank via Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. 

Early the same month, Abu Ali al-Askary, a leader in the Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia in Iraq, claimed his group has “prepared to arm fighters of the Islamic Resistance in Jordan” in a statement on Telegram.

The situation escalated with Iran’s unprecedented attack on Israel in mid April. The Jordanian government said it defended itself against flying objects that entered its airspace during the assault.

The move caused Iran to mock and threaten Jordan. The semi-official Fars news agency reported during the attack that a military source said Jordan would be the “next target” if it helps Israel. Jordan subsequently summoned the Iranian ambassador over the issue.

Later that month, Jordan’s King Abdullah II told US President Joe Biden that the kingdom will not become a “theater of war” in the wider regional conflict related to Gaza.

Know more: In April, the Palestinian group Fatah accused Iran of stoking unrest in the West Bank. Fatah is the leading faction in the Palestinian Authority, and the statement came amid intra-Palestinian violence in the territory.