Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Jordan takes ISIS battle to internet, mosques

14 November 2014, 10:19

Amman - Jordan is cracking down on firebrand preachers and online extremism to tackle jihadists after joining US-led air strikes on the Islamic State or Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group.

The desert kingdom shares borders with conflict-hit Iraq and Syria, and is struggling to cope with hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, adding to its own problems with homegrown Islamists.

Its decision in September to join the anti-ISIS coalition has put Jordan in even graver danger, but authorities insist its borders are secure and have launched a sweep against jihadists that extends to the internet.

Also Read: Obama seeks human rights waiver on war funds

"Jordan is waging a war against jihadist ideology and amended the anti-terrorism law, because the Internet has become the main tool for mobilising and recruiting" militants, said analyst Hasan Abu Haniya.

Since joining the anti-ISIS fight, "130 IS sympathisers have been arrested, most of them members of Salafist groups", said defence lawyer Mussa Abdalat, referring to adherents of a strict Sunni interpretation of Islam.

"Only 50 of them have been brought to trial before the state security court, while the rest are still awaiting prosecution", Abdalat told AFP.

But for those already convicted or facing trials at military tribunals, the charge has often been the same: spreading the ideology of a terrorist group on the Internet.

'Stopping extremist ideas'

Wary of Salafists, authorities have also moved to bring some of the country's nearly 6 000 mosques under tighter control by weeding out preachers who deliver fiery pro-jihadist sermons.

"We have stopped 25 imams from preaching because they violated regulations", Ahmad Ezzat, the spokesperson for the ministry of religious endowments and Islamic affairs, told AFP.

"Some of them tried to use the minbar [pulpit] for political reasons while others used it to propagate extremist ideas", he added.

As in many other Arab countries where fears are mounting over the growing influence of Salafists, Jordan's ministry of Islamic affairs appoints imams, pays their salaries and monitors their sermons.

Preachers must promote moderate Islam and refrain from making political statements as well as saying anything that could undermine the sovereignty of the state or fan civil unrest.

Egypt has also moved to control mosques by laying out the theme of sermons on Fridays, as it faces growing unrest following the military's ouster last year of the Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Authorities say 1 300 Salafists are fighting in the ranks of ISIS, which has declared an Islamic "caliphate" on territory it has seized in Iraq and Syria.

They are estimated to number 4 000 in Jordan itself.

Hundreds are followers of al-Qaeda's Syria franchise, al-Nusra Front, but many switched allegiance to back the Islamic State group when Jordan joined the US-led coalition.
'War on three fronts'

"The war on terror is a continuous process, [fought] on three fronts", government spokesperson Mohammed Momeni told AFP.

These were "direct military confrontation, security efforts to monitor terrorist organisations and religious awareness" in places like schools and mosques "to eradicate extremist ideology".

Also Read: 'Terror' attack on Egypt vessel leaves 8 missing

Jordan passed its first anti-terrorism law in 2006, when al-Qaeda suicide attacks on three Amman hotels killed 60 people.

In April parliament adopted controversial measures to tighten the noose, as fears grew that the more than three-year war in Syria could spill over and threaten the kingdom's security.

These criminalised "the use of information technology, the Internet or any means of publication, to facilitate terrorist acts or back groups that promote, support or fund terrorism".

The amendments as terrorist acts "joining or attempting to join armed or terrorist groups, or recruiting or attempting to recruit people to join these groups" acts of terrorism.

They also outlaw "acts that would expose Jordan or Jordanians to the danger of acts of aggression, or harm the kingdom's relations with another country."

On Monday two Jordanians were sentenced to five years each for ISIS membership and two others for allegedly posting pro-jihadist comments and articles online.

Last month former al-Qaeda mentor Issam Barqawi, also known as Abu Mohammed al-Maqdessi, was arrested only four months after being released from jail.

Barqawi, who was once mentor to Iraq's slain al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was jailed again after the state prosecutor accused him of using the internet to promote al-Nusra Front.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...