By Arab News
By Hani Hazaimeh
Four Jordanian policemen were killed in clashes with radical militants during a raid on a village near the southern Jordanian city of Karak on Tuesday, said Mohammad Momani, minister of state for media affairs and government spokesman.
The violence occurred just two days after a shootout between police and gunmen, holed up in the Crusader castle near Karak, 130 km south of Amman, left 14 people dead — 10 civilians including a Canadian tourist and four terrorists.
Daesh claimed responsibility for the strike.
Momani said the security agencies arrested a suspect related to the terrorists involved in Sunday’s attack, who confessed to hiding weapons in his apartment.
“The police escorted him to his house; he ran inside and started shooting at the police personnel killing one of them. Reinforcements were deployed to the scene. The suspect was joined by other attackers hiding in the house,” Momani said.
Police are conducting raids based on the information gathered from arrested suspects, according to Momani.
Warning messages were relayed through mosque loudspeakers to civilians telling them to stay away from the clash site, eyewitnesses said.
Momani said the authorities sent text messages to the residents in the area urging them not to come near the site of the security operation.
Security forces have been carrying out raids throughout the kingdom, especially in Karak, following Sunday’s incident.
On Tuesday, security officers detained a number of radicals including Qatada Omar Mahmoud, son of the Salafi movement leader Abu Qatada Al-Falasteeni, following raids in Amman, Zarqa and Al-Baqa’a.
Sources said the detainees include Mustafa Al-Issa, Abu Qatada’s son-in-law and a leader in the movement, and Rashad Shtiwi from Baqa’a. Other young men in Amman and Zarqa were arrested over the past two days.
Daesh on Tuesday said the attack was carried out by four “soldiers of the caliphate” in revenge for US-led coalition airstrikes targeting terrorists in Syria and Iraq.
Mohammad Abu Rumman, researcher at the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan, told Arab News on Tuesday that a worrying change is occurring in the Daesh group, which has become significantly dissociated from mainstream jihadists and their leaders such as Al-Maqdasi and Abu Qatadah.
The change among sympathizers is represented in the shift from ideological support and sympathy for Daesh to adopting its ideology and carrying out its plans through groups and cells in a manner that will serve the agenda of the group directly, especially under the current circumstances when Daesh is waging a decisive war in Iraq and Syria.
“This is not the first time that terror groups and sleeper cells are carrying out operations against Jordan. Since the 1990s, Jordan has been involved in an open fight against such groups,” said Abu Rumman, who is also an expert on Islamic groups.
“However, the point here is that parts of the groups that are supportive of and sympathizing with Daesh ideologically and intellectually have shifted to terrorist operations without receiving direct orders from the group’s leadership.”
He added that the terrorists have now resorted to a direct confrontation with the local authorities.
“In the past those groups surrendered whenever their plans were foiled by the local security agencies. Now, they are engaging in a direct armed confrontation with security personnel, opting to die rather than turn themselves in, based on a fatwa (edict) issued a few years ago by some terrorist leaders urging their followers to resist arrest and fight to death.”
Abu Rumman said that followers of such terror groups consider any individual working in any military or security apparatus a legitimate target or enemy, as is the case with Western tourists, in line with the group’s agenda, which is a dangerous development.