Frustrated by its inability to follow up the 9/11 attacks on American soil, global intelligence experts are noting that al-Qaeda and it’s global ji’had splinter cells are now focused on acquiring operational footholds throughout the Eastern Mediterranean. Indeed, Al-Qaeda operations in Jordan, Turkey, Palestine, and Egypt are becoming more prominent with every passing day.
On November 9 “al-Qaeda Mesopotamia,” the organization led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, attacked three Jordanian hotels in Amman. In August, an al-Qaeda rocket strike at the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba also reached the Israeli resort town of Eilat. Just to the south, a growing al-Qaeda presence in the Egyptian Sinai led to attacks on tourists in Taba and other coastal resorts in October 2004, followed by a major bombing at a hotel in Sharm al-Sheikh last July.
The Egyptian Sinai has also served as a rear base for the beginning of an al-Qaeda presence in the Gaza Strip. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the deputy head of al-Qaeda, has encouraged Zarqawi to extend the ji’had in Iraq to neighboring states such as Jordan, Kuwait, Turkey, and Syria.
It appears from all this that Zarqawi's branch of al-Qaeda is determined first and foremost, to destabilize the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. In the last year there have been increasing concerns that Jordanian public opinion has been radicalized by the American-led war against the Sunni insurgency in western Iraq.
This radicalization does not just involve the Palestinians living in Jordan. Indeed, Zarqawi himself, as well as many of the Jordanian mujahi’din, come from Transjordanian Bedouin tribes known for their loyalty to the Hashemite throne. As a result, in December, Jordan’s prime minister called for a “preemptive strike” against ji’hadism in Jordan. In the meantime, a state of emergency has been called in Jordan because of persistent warnings of new attacks.
Many Western sources are convinced that Zarqawi was training his recruits in the use of toxins, including poisons and chemical weapons, at the Herat training camp in Afghanistan. In 2004, a Zarqawi associate named Azmi al-Jailusi confessed to trying to set off a chemical explosion in central Amman, near the headquarters of Jordanian intelligence, which had the potential to kill 80,000 people. In April 2005, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned that recurrent U.S. intelligence reports indicated that Zarqawi was seeking to obtain a “radiological explosive,” also known as a “dirty bomb.”
It is clear that the threat of orthodox Islam’s ideological aspirations for global domination is becoming more and more ominous--but especially for those Muslim states who wish to somehow moderate Koranic teachings by their friendly relations with the West. They are surely ji'had's next front.