KUWAIT CITY, June 6, (Agencies): His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent on Monday a cable of condolences to King Abdullah II of Jordan in which he expressed his deepest condolences and sympathy on the victims of the terrorist attack on a headquarters of the Jordanian intelligence in the Baqaa camp.
His Highness the Amir expressed Kuwait’s strong condemnation of such terrorist attack that contradicts with all norms and humanitarian principles, pointing to Kuwait’s firm stance which denounces terrorism in all its forms and manifestations as well as its bid to dry out its sources in collaboration with the world community.
His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah also sent similar cables. National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Ali Al-Ghanim on Monday cabled Jordan’s Senate President Faisal Al Fayez expressing deep condolences on death of Jordanians in the terrorist attack that targeted the public intelligence headquarters.
Parliament Speaker Al- Ghanim expressed solidarity with the brotherly Jordanian people against this flagrant criminal act. He also underscored in the cable necessity of establishing regional-international cooperation to face and eradicate terrorism. One or more assailants armed with an automatic assault weapon attacked a local office of Jordan’s national intelligence agency Monday, killing four guards and a receptionist in what the government called a “terrorist attack.” Government spokesman Mohammed Momani suggested Islamic militants were involved, describing the attackers as “criminal elements who don’t represent our moderate religion.” Those involved remained at large hours after the morning attack, which came on the first day of the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack on the intelligence office on the edge of the Palestinian refugee camp of Baqaa, near the capital, Amman. Such attacks are relatively rare in Jordan, even though the pro-Western kingdom is on the front line in the military campaign against Islamic State extremists who control large areas of neighboring Syria and Iraq. The shooting attack took place before 7:00 am, said Momani. He said it involved one or more attackers armed with at least one automatic weapon. They killed four guards and a receptionist, he said.
The targeted security office is a two-story building facing the Baqaa camp, which was established almost half a century ago for Palestinian refugees displaced in the conflict with Israel. The camp has a population of tens of thousands, including many Syrian refugees who have settled there since the start of the Syria conflict in 2011. A highway separates the security compound and the camp. Several hours after the attack, the access road to the security compound was closed.
Security agents were visible outside the building, including masked members of the counter- terrorism squad. Monday’s attack came three months after Jordanian special forces clashed with IS-linked gunmen at a hideout in the northern Jordanian city of Irbid. Seven suspected Islamic State activists and a Jordanian officer were killed.
The IS cell had planned attacks on military and civilian targets in the kingdom, officials said. Over the past two years, since IS group’s swift land gains in Syria and Iraq, Jordan has cracked down on suspected sympathizers to prevent the extremists from recruiting inside its borders.
Several hundred Jordanians have been sentenced to prison by special military courts for expressing support for IS on social media. Jordan is part of the US-led military campaign against Islamic State. Jordan has seen spillover from the conflicts in Iraq and Syria in the past. In December 2005, suicide attacks on three Amman hotels claimed by IS’ predecessor al-Qaeda in Iraq killed 60 people and wounded dozens.
The Baqaa camp is 20 kms (12 miles) from central Amman and is the largest of the kingdom’s 10 official Palestinian refugee camps. On Monday, security forces blocked the road to the camp to keep journalists away, an AFP correspondent said. The five killed in the attack were buried later in the day. Former member of parliament Mahmud al-Kharabsha said what happened had been “expected”. “This camp was chosen for an attack in order to sow sedition (between Palestinians and Jordanians) in the country,” Kharabsha said in Baqaa. “What happened was expected. Jordan is in the midst of a cyclone and shares long borders with Syria and Iraq,” he told AFP.
Baqaa — which suffers from chronic poverty and unemployment — houses about 220,000 people, including more than 100,000 of the two million Palestinian refugees who live in Jordan. One Baqaa resident who identified himself as Yussef called the attack “unacceptable”, coming on the first day of Ramadan. “It is an attempt to create divisions in the country,” he said. Baqaa was one of six camps set up in 1968 to house Palestinians fleeing the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a result of the 1967 Six-Day War during which Israel seized the Palestinian territories, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
Baqaa was the home of Mahmud Abdelal, an Islamist extremist who blew himself up in Syria in October 2012. In 2010, three Jordanian Islamist extremists were sentenced to prison terms of between three years and life for plotting to kill intelligence officers in the camp.
According to sources close to Islamists, almost 4,000 Jordanians have joined jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria, where an estimated 420 have been killed since 2011. Jordan has carried out air strikes against IS in Syria since 2014. One of its pilots was captured by the jihadists when his plane went down in Syria in December 2014. In February 2015, IS released gruesome footage of Maaz al- Kassasbeh being burned alive in a cage. His murder prompted Jordan to extend its air strikes against IS to Iraq, where it is the only Arab coalition member taking part in the bombing campaign. Jordan has also opened up the Prince Hassan airbase, northeast of the capital, to other members of the US-led coalition in the air war. In March, Jordanian authorities announced they had foiled an IS plot to carry out attacks in the kingdom in an operation that led to the deaths of seven jihadists.