US Says Jordanian Malls At Risk of Attacks

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Thursday, February 26, 2015

The US embassy in Amman warned Wednesday that it has received credible information about potential attacks against upmarket shopping malls in the Jordanian capital.

The United States and other nations have become increasingly jittery about the threat of "lone wolf" attacks carried out by extremists in their home country.

The US embassy said it had "received information of a potential threat against high-end malls in Amman. The threat is judged to be credible, although the possible time frame and type of threat are unknown."

It said the Jordanian government had taken steps to increase security, but that embassy employees and their families had been instructed to avoid the locations "as a precaution in the coming days" and that private US citizens were advised to do the same.

Government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani told AFP that "Jordan continues to take security measures to ensure safety and security of people given the regional situation.”

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) released a video earlier this month allegedly showing Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kassasbeh being burnt alive in a cage, triggering a public backlash in Jordan and sharpening the focus of Arab allies contributing to the war effort.

Jordan is among a group of Arab countries, which includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates, that have joined US airstrikes on ISIS, which controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria where it has declared a caliphate.

Jordan is a major US-ally in the fight against ISIS and is home to hundreds of US military trainers bolstering defenses in the Syrian and Iraqi borders.

The United States provides more than $300 million in security assistance to Jordan annually, a figure that is expected to grow. On February 3, the United States and Jordan signed a new memorandum of understanding that committed the United States to increase its assistance from $660 million to $1 billion per year for 2015-2017.

A Pentagon spokeswoman said the goals were to help Jordan's armed forces modernize and bolster its ability to "counter terrorism."

Critics opposed to US involvement in the conflict with ISIS have pointed out that Washington in partnership with its Gulf allies, Jordan, and Turkey played a role in the formation and expansion of extremist groups like ISIS by arming, financing and politically empowering the armed opposition groups in Syria, and also allowing insurgents to freely infiltrate into the country.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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