Jordan has bolstered security measures amid the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant from neighboring Iraq and Syria.
Officials said the military and intelligence community have been on alert for infiltration by ISIL from Iraq and Syria. They did not rule out that ISIL could use Jordan as a waystation for operations around the Levant.
“Our armed forces and security agencies are fully prepared to protect Jordan from any repercussions that might result from developments in Syria and Iraq,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said.
In a meeting with members of parliament on June 16, Judeh said the Hashemite kingdom was closely following ISIL’s advance in northern Iraq. The foreign minister said Amman did not envision an influx of refugees from Iraq. So far, nearly 1 million Syrians have flooded Jordan since the war in Syria in 2011.
“We have taken all required measures to deal with an emergency,” Interior Minister Hussein Majali said.
ISIL, which captured an Iraqi border crossing to Jordan, was believed to have been establishing sleeper cells in the kingdom. In 2005, elements close to ISIL were said to be responsible for a series of suicide bombings of Amman hotels.
“All civil and military state institutions are taking the necessary and precautionary measures to avoid crises like the one Iraq is going through now,” Jordanian Information Minister Mohammed Al Momani told the Saudi-owned A-Sharq Al Awsat daily.
On June 16, authorities released a leading Al Qaida-aligned operative jailed since 2011. Issam Barqawi, known as Abu Mohammed Al Maqdessi and known as a mentor to the late ISIL commander Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi, had been accused of recruiting and financing fighters for the Taliban war in Afghanistan.
Officials said the military has added patrols and other operations along its border with Iraq. They also cited the operation of a U.S.-origin border security system.
“Should ISIS establish a foothold in Iraq’s Sunni-majority provinces, it would start thinking about expanding towards Jordan,” Jordanian analyst Fahd Al Khaitan said.
ISIL Captures U.S. Tanks, Copters
The “Islamic State of Iraq and Levant” has seized major U.S. combat platforms in Iraq, a report said.
The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs asserted that ISIL, also known as Islamic State of Iraq and Sham, acquired a huge amount of U.S. equipment delivered to the Iraq Army. JINSA said the Al Qaida franchise captured both U.S. ground vehicles and aircraft in the takeover of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
“…They [Iraqi military] left behind logistics depots filled with U.S.-made Humvees, tanks, helicopters, rockets, and countless small arms which are now all in the hands of an organization deemed too violent for Al Qaida,” the report, titled “Developments in Iraq,” said.
Author Benjamin Runkle, a former consultant to Congress and the Defense Department, did not identify the models of the combat platforms. But over the last five years, Washington has exported such platforms as M1A1 main battle tanks, UH-1 Huey utility helicopters and Hellfire air-to-ground missiles.
JINSA, deemed close to the U.S. military, also said ISIL looted as much as $500 million from the Mosul Central Bank. The report said this made ISIL the “wealthiest terrorist franchise ever.”
“Combined with the increased luster of a successful military campaign, this cash in hand will enable ISIS will attract even more foreign fighters to its banner and training camps,” the report said. “The increase in territory controlled by ISIS also gives it greater strategic depth, and thus greater freedom of action.”
Runkle said the huge amount of money and weapons have transformed ISIL into a significant threat to U.S. security. But he dismissed calls for U.S. air strikes on the network, saying the intelligence community lacked resources in Iraq.
“First, because the U.S. withdrew almost all its intelligence collection assets from Iraq in 2011, we do not have a good sense of whom to target,” the report said. “Moreover, although we can likely kill a fair number of ISIS leaders in the near-term, the lesson of our drone campaigns in Pakistan and Yemen show that without being able to hold ground or address the underlying causes behind the local population’s support for the terrorists, we will likely be starting an endless cycle that may buy time but will never be strategically decisive.”
Instead, the report urged a sustained U.S.-led campaign against ISIL. This would include trainers, advisers, and intelligence and logistics support to U.S. allies as well as military aid to Sunni rebels in Syria, where ISIL has built a mini-state in the north. Runkle, however, warned against any U.S. alliance with Iran to defeat ISIL. “America’s regional allies are already disturbed by U.S. outreach and concessions to Iran on nuclear-related issues,” the report said. “This concern will only be exacerbated by any implicit partnership with Iran in Iraq. Legitimizing Iranian intervention in Iraq will only further drive both domestic Iraqi and regional Sunni actors away from the moderation upon which hopes for regional stability depend.”