An Islamic State suicide bomber infiltrated a Syrian refugee camp inside Jordan and blew himself up at a military checkpoint early last week, ISIS’s official media Amaq News Agency confirmed recently.
The attack killed seven Jordanian soldiers and wounded 13 others, the Jordanian military said in a statement. Agence France Presse reported the attacker entered Jordan by exploiting a humanitarian aid corridor. Jordanian King Abdullah vowed that Jordan would strike ISIS “with an iron fist.”
In early June, five employees of the Jordanian intelligence service were gunned down in the Palestinian refugee camp of Baq’qa by an ISIS attacker. Baq’qa is the largest Palestinian camp in Jordan, and houses nearly 70,000 refugees.
“Most likely they targeted this particular spot because they thrive on creating divisions within society and want to wreak havoc,” A security official told Agence France Presse.
Jordan is a key Arab ally of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State and has carried out airstrikes against ISIS in both Syria and Iraq. ISIS captured a Jordanian pilot in 2015 and shockingly burned him alive in a cage, sparking domestic outrage and accelerating Jordanian anti-ISIS efforts. Jordan has also opened Prince Hassan Air Base to the U.S.-led coalition, significantly reducing flight time to Syria to bomb ISIS and enabling the coalition to carry out more strikes.
ISIS’s two recent attacks on Jordan by exploiting refugee channels raise troubling questions for the future of Jordanian security. Jordan currently has 500,000 recent Syrian refugees, along with nearly 2 million displaced Palestinians. ISIS has it made it a strategic priority to attack Jordan for being a key western ally, and declared it ruled by “apostates.”
The two deadly attacks come during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends on July 5. ISIS has traditionally used Ramadan as a time to aggressively pursue its strategic priorities. ISIS “stands poised to expand its operations over the next six weeks, particularly in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan,” noted the Institute for the Study of War in its Ramadan attack.
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