The Status of Violent Extremism in Jordan

By Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Tue 25 April / Apr 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

The day before last, the Court of State Security held 15 public sessions on cases related to terrorism, and suspected proponents and followers of ISIS and Nusra.

It has become a near daily, mundane thing, to read about State Security cases on extremism and terrorism, of a variety of nature. They range from promoting terrorism and extremism to actually joining terrorist organisations for the purpose of carrying out acts of terrorism.

This is however, the first time a woman is put to the stand; one of at least a few more cases to come.

It has become so typical of our current day reality that a specialised centre has been established to engage events related to terrorism, with its faculty comprised of people from different academic, demographic, and social backgrounds.

Nonetheless, despite the growing official interest in combating violent extremism and extremism perhaps altogether, and despite all the plans and the endless forums and conferences, we are still suspended in this state of political myopia, facing only ambiguity, uncertainty, and unclear variables.

Be it in terms of conceptualisation, in regards to the real scale of the problem, or in terms of devising solutions, either way, our strategies and approaches fall short!

The basis for a mature and realistic approach to addressing the questions of rising Daeshism and extremism, lies in sound conceptualisation of the phenomenon itself, as well as the accurate estimation of its actual scale and related variables and factors.

In other words, how many have actually joined these terror groups? How many are in row to stand trial for joining these groups and cells? How many, on the other hand, are charged with promoting extremism and terrorism; sympathisers! How many cases are scheduled to stand trial this year, compared to the years before? What effect has the amendment of the anti-terrorism and extremism law? Has the number of cases declined or increased? How do we explain it? What is the average age median? Where are most of these cases located? What recruitment and approach instruments were used to draw in those citizens?!

These are only a taste of the investigative rhetoric, which is integral to the cause.

What results have come out of the inmate extremists’ dialogue programme? Are there scientific studies as to whether or not the programme even works? Its strengths and weaknesses? Are the respective parties keeping track of the ex-cons of such cases after rehabilitation? And why have we not considered establishing civil society institutions to approach them and their families? To contain the infection from running through the whole family or tribe?!

Those on the other hand, are only some of the questions which need to be asked when it comes to how we plan to address the issue.

Undoubtedly, we have no accurate answers to the any of those questions. At best, we have estimates, in general, which are neither reliable nor precise.

Yes, we have an abundance of dispersed information and a multitude of data, but we have not yet devised the scientific framework to process these information and data, let alone conduct any quantitative analyses or qualitative processing.

As a result, our understanding of the issue lacks both descriptive data; definitions, and the accurate estimation of its scale and dimensions.

So long as we lack the concrete foundation and understanding of the issue, any effort is then as fruitless as it would be to prescribe medication to an undiagnosed illness!

Ironically, everybody is talking about terrorism and extremism, as if they know what they’re talking about.

There are dozens of local and international institutions currently funding projects and researches on the topic, as well as official and unofficial bodies and societies, all working to “combat terrorism”.

Instead of making progress, we’re spinning around in other spheres and circles.

In fact, we have now what could be coined a “terrorism business”, like the refugee business which spurred before it; a domestic and international market dynamic that revolves around one particular issue, driven by funding, conferences, and experts.

So far, no database has been constructed, and no measurable, accurate data is available for further processing!

Terrorism and extremism is spreading like wildfire; a plague. Infectious; from individuals to families.

Meanwhile, we are still incapable of outlining a solid conceptualisation, an accurate understanding, on the situation and status of terrorism and extremism in Jordan!

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