Honestly, We Haven’t Done Much!

By Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Sat 1 April / Apr 2017. 12:00 AM - آخر تعديل في Sun 2 April / Apr 2017. 02:36 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

They are among us; in the cities, towns, the countryside, and camps. Their darkness is seeping through the very fabric of our society. No one is safe from them.

Their numbers? Their whereabouts? None of it makes a different. Be it in dozens, hundreds, or thousands, the risk of there being one among us is no less pressing than that of there being thousands, hiding in plain sight.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to us that ISIS or Daesh’s ilk of extremism is well spread among us. We already know that. We don’t exactly need a report to tell us so, for we have seen its woes first hand in Rukban, Irbid, Baqaa, and Karak, notwithstanding other incidents and attacks carried out by those murderous lot, mind you.

However, a recent report by the US Congress department of studies on the ticking time bombs rested in our laps, should remind us that we are indeed far from safe.

Colleague Samah Beibars, with AlGhad, cites the report today, in her Sunday piece, saying that nearly 4,000 Jordanians have joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq since 2011.

Expectedly, this makes Jordan the second largest contributor to the terrorist group, in terms of recruits and manpower, right after Tunisia, Daesh’s primary source of militants and recruits.

Truth be told, there is nothing new about that. Nothing in the US Congress’s report is particularly new.

Some point, nonetheless, should be reiterated.

Contrary to common misconception, according to the report, recruitment among Salafi Jihadists is in no way exclusive to Maan.

Apparently, there isn’t a city or town in Jordan without a considerable Salafi Jihadist presence, stealing our youth away, right from under our noses.

Notably, the report offers an extensive overview of the environment and the harsh conditions which contribute to the spread of this particular ideology among our young ones.

It suggests that frustration and desperation are the main enabling factors, in addition to the overall loss of faith and trust in the government and proposed reformation to fix the economy.

Notwithstanding, the absence of active intellectual and political-party frameworks is definitely one of these factors which push our youth to resort to extremism, in an attempt to address their reality and change it.

More so, the lack of clarity and the disenfranchisement of our youth; the loss of identity, has driven them to deliberately adopt the religious identity in the endeavour to establish meaning and purpose for their lives.

Now, American diagnoses aside, it is no secret that ISIS and ilk have their roots here, among us. This we have known for years. But what have we done to address it and contain its effect on society?

Honestly speaking, in light of the suffocating financial crisis Jordan is undergoing, already stretching our economy to its limits, it doesn’t seem feasible to hope that somehow, our government will redirect spending towards enhancing the quality of life. Contrarily, the government seems to be growing more persistent by the day on incurring further costs on citizens by collecting more taxes to make more revenues to finance expenditure expansions which serve not the citizenry. And the result? More popular dissatisfaction.

Typically as well, the government’s views, solutions, and visions, are restrained by traditionalism and rigidity. They are anything but innovative.

To address the issue of terrorism, the state has resorted mainly to policing the situation and the —once again— traditional security approach.

Needless to say, this is not enough.

The superficiality of the public approach to this threat could very soon backfire on us. It usually does when the processing of any problem is not holistic.

This partiality leaves the security approach incapable of addressing the main issue behind the spread of extremism; that it is first and foremost an issue of ideology and identity.

Alternatively, the state has to intellectually and ideologically address extremism, away from the traditional rhetoric, which has dominated the public religious sphere in the last few years.

In the meantime, a reminder would not hurt, that your typical, emotional Friday sermon does not suffice.

Fact is, it nowhere near as appealing as the terrorists’!

The only thing the US Congress report highlights which is out of the ordinary, perhaps even an addition to the context, is the issue of the relocation of the embassy to Jerusalem.

Accordingly, the report underscores —and so has our King Abdullah many times— that the relocation will only incite dissatisfaction and escalate the situation, which is a major predicament for Jordan.

The relocation prefaces and advances an unfair situation for the Palestinian Cause, which His Majesty would say is a major precursor to the spread of extremism, its justification, and the reinforcement of the terrorist culture.

Here and now, what is requires is that we reconsider and thoroughly review every anti-extremism strategy we have set.

The fact that there are 4,000 Jordanians out there fighting with ISIS means that they have spurred from our very midst, and that they are primarily a threat to us. Their danger in root goes beyond the issues poverty and unemployment, despite the fact that that these issues are in fact eating through our society.

On top of those here, thousands will be returning, upon already populating their ideas and abducting our young.

If we do not address these threats now, and we have a very long way to go, our society will always be the perfect environment for terrorism to grow; societally, economically, intellectually, and politically, along with the terrors which come with it.

Because nothing has changed; because we haven’t really done much, Daesh still appeals to so many of our youth.

So far, our war on terror is strictly military, which is where we fall short. We need to go beyond the military-security approach to the heart of the matter, now, if we are to win this war before their darkness settles in.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.