Jordanians Fear IS Backlash After Airstrikes

[28-09-2014 11:11 AM]

Ammon News - AMMONNEWS - Jordan's involvement in the US-led airstrikes against Islamic State targets has led to growing concerns in the country of a potential backlash.

Reports of IS banners in areas like the eastern city of Ma'an have fuelled fears of destabilisation by a force wreaking havoc in neighbouring Syria and Iraq.

The installation of a public siren system in parts of capital Amman, days after Jordan confirmed it had carried out strikes, sparked panic on social media.

Fears the alert system was an indicator of an imminent retaliation forced authorities to reassure the public the installations were part of a long-planned programme.

Brigadier General Fareed Shariah of the Jordanian Civil Defence Authority said the sirens were part of a "comprehensive system for exceptional situations".

"We can use it to deliver all kinds of audio messages, to warn people of snow, floods or even terrorist attacks - any incident that could harm the Jordanian people," Mr Shariah said.

Information Minister Mohammed Momani also took to state television to dismiss rumours that US and French citizens were warned to avoid malls in the capital.

He said the revised travel advice notices simply called for "heightened vigilance".

Amman's tolerant atmosphere is a contrast to some areas of Jordan where more conservative attitudes prevail.

The fact that it has been the target of terrorist attacks in the past, means some residents are wary it could be targeted once again.

Murad Faouri, a doctor in the city, said he believed Jordan's involvement in airstrikes made it an "obvious" focus for a potential backlash.

"We are more exposed now, to more attacks, because we just tried to attack Da'ash [Islamic State], so it's obvious they will now just be thinking how they can hit us back," he said.

However, Asile Moussa, an architecture student, said she backed her government.

"It's a good thing. After all, we're fighting terrorism, around the globe. It's attacking us now, it's near to our borders, so therefore I believe it's the right thing to do," she said.

But it is not just the chaos in neighbouring Iraq and Syria that threatens the country's long-term stability.

Jordan's domestic Salafist Muslim community could also play a role in destabilisation, through its sympathies with jihadist movements.

The recent release from Jordanian prisons of radical preachers Abu Qatada and Abu Mohammed al Maqdisi may come to have a significant bearing on events.

Both have issued condemnations of IS which could stunt growth of support for the group.

But they also bitterly condemn the US-led coalition of which Jordan is a part, and support the al Qaeda-affiliated rebel group Jahbat al Nusra, fighting in Syria.

If they choose to voice their opposition to the airstrikes, more loudly than their opposition to Islamic State, their influence could yet disrupt the balance in Jordan.

*Sky News

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