Jordan Prepares for Salafists Returning From Syria

Article Summary
Jordan's authorities are preemptively preparing for the return of Salafists who have taken up arms alongside jihadist factions in neighboring towns along the Jordan border, reports Mohammad Barhoumeh. 

Several signs indicate that in cooperation with regional and international parties, Jordan is moving to find a way out of the Syrian crisis, including efforts to proactively address a problem that has started to emerge: fighters returning from Syria.

The Syrian revolution has mobilized Salafist jihadists in Jordan toward a new role and new arena for jihad. The city of Daraa, which is located on the Syrian-Jordanian border, is now attracting Salafist jihadists from Jordan, to the extent that it has become somewhat common for the jihadist group to announce the martyrdom of its members in Syria. Moreover, reports show that Daraa and Aleppo have become prime environments for this Salafist movement, as represented by Jabhat al-Nusra.

Based on this, King Abdullah II of Jordan may not have been exaggerating when he addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos late last month, saying: “One of the biggest problems is that al-Qaeda militants established themselves in Syria last year and had received funds and equipment from abroad. This means that the new Taliban the world is going to have to deal with will be in Syria.”

The prominent Jihadist leader Mohammad Shalabi, also known as Abu Sayyaf, revealed that the movement’s members, under the banner of Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria, refused calls to join the Free Syrian Army in exchange for money and arms. He noted that if the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is toppled there will likely be a clash and confrontation between jihadist and secular militants.

Some say this has preoccupied the Jordanian king’s agenda during his recent visit to Moscow to discuss the Syrian issue. These concerns have begun to act as an incentive to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis through seeking common ground between the West and its allies in the region, and Russia and its allies.

In an analytical study published in Defining Ideas, a journal issued by the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, Lt. Col. Joel Rayburn warned of the growing threat of al-Qaeda in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. Rayburn anticipated that dangers around Saudi Arabia will increase if Jabhat al-Nusra successfully establishes itself in Jordan.

Found in: syrian revolution, syrian crisis, syrian-jordanian relations, syrian, salafists, salafist, jordan

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