Jihadi Salafism in Jordan, from Afghanistan to Syria

Participation of the Jordanian Jihadi Salafists in the Syrian Revolution appeared in many locations. This was first traced when a prominent leader of Jihadi Salafists, Muhammed Al Shalaby, known as Abi Sayaf told Associated Press International on 3rd of October 2012 that 6 of his followers had left at dawn to Dara’a in Syria to fight the Syrian Army. He stated that 2 advocates of Jihadi Salafism martyred in Dara’a City on the 2nd of October 2012. The first was named Baha’a Al Kafarna from Al Zarka’a City, and the second was named Ziad Al Hawtary from Amman, the capital City of Jordan. Al Shalaby added that Jordanian security forces had arrested 15 Salafist on the 3rd of October 2012. In the meanwhile, he reported the death of Samer Al Kadi and Abdul Salam Muhammed, two Jordanian Jihadi Salafists, in Idlib in the North of Syria on 19 November 2012. 

According to Munif Samara, a high-ranking leader of Jordanian Jihadi Salafists, about 500 Jordanian Salafists fought the Syrian Army. Forty of them were killed in battles and 7 died in suicidal attacks. Those Jihadi Salafists were from cities like Al Zarka, Al Rasefa, Amman and other cities in the north, middle and south of the country. They were all leaders of battalions of Jabhat Al Nusra. Most of them had been fighters in Afghanistan, Iraq, Chechenia and Yemen.

Iyad Al Tubasy, known as Abu Julaibeeb and son-n-law of Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi, was one of the most important leaders of Jabhat Al Nusra. He fought with Musa’ab Al Zarqawi in Afghanistan and later was the leader of Jabhat Al Nusra in Dara’a and Sham. He was seriously injured and was taken to Turkey for treatment before he resumed fighting after recovery.

Another Jordanian leader of Al Nusra was Mustafa Abdul Latif, Known as Abi Annas Al Sahabah. He was the top military leader of the southern area. Jordanians with Al Nusra were the main funders of Al Nusra and Fighters from Gulf States came second but before Iraqis and Moroccans. The presence of Jordanian Jihadi Salafists in the Syrian war and other battles in Iraq and Afghanistan need to be clarified in terms of role and importance for Jihadi Salafism in the region and the World.  

Origin and Prominence

Following the parliamentary elections in Jordan, which took place in 1989, the strength of Jordanian Muslim Brothers was very clear in terms of organization, publicity and dominance. With this culmination, Jihadi Salafists started to get bogged down. After their return from Afghanistan, Jordanian Jihadi Salafists felt proud of their fight against the former Soviet Union. They were blooming in triumph. Another development was the return of 300000 Jordanians from Kuwait and other Gulf States as a result of the Second Gulf War in 1991. Most of them were taken away by the ideology of Jihadi Salafism. The Second Gulf War, beginning of the 1990s, constituted a turning point in the history of Jihadi Salafism as these Salafist groups gained unprecedented momentum.

In 1992 two members of the Jordanian Parliament, Laith Shbellat and Ya’koub Kersh, were accused of establishing Mua’ta Military Group. In 1993 cassation court cleared them. They were also accused with establishing an organization for Afghani Arabs and “Allegiance to Imam” in 1994. In that same year, they were also accused of an attempt to assassinate a French Diplomat.

Remonstrative Islamic thought started to spread with the beginning of 1990s. Many cases were spotted at the State Security Court. Right from the beginning, these clustering Islamic groups attempted to influence hardliners of Muslim Brothers. In their speeches, they tried to get closer to Sayed Kutob’s ideology to encourage those hardliners to support their movement in theory and practice, but leaders of Muslim Brother were hesitant despite sharing many identical political and Salafi views. 

Establishment and Preparation Stage

Allegiance to Imam Organization was the first framework that publicized Jihadi Salafism and changed this movement from a small fragmented group into a unified intellectual trend even though it mostly lacked organizational structure. All in all, there has been one intellectual and spiritual leadership until recently.

The beginning was in 1989 when Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi started to adopt extremist Islamic concepts. Soon, he moved to Afghanistan to take part in Afghani Jihad. Accompanied with some friends and acquaintances, Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi arrived in Afghanistan through Beshawar in Pakistan, and settled in Jalal Abbad which is the back yard for Arab Jihadis in Afghanistan. Advocates House was the headquarter that belonged to Al Qaeda under leadership of Usama Ben Laden. Service Office was supervised by Abdullah Azzam. These two houses used to be for reception of the new Jihadi volunteers coming for the fight in Afghanistan.    

During the spring of 1989, Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi and few other fighters moved to Khost City to the east of Afghanistan, but they didn’t take part in the war against the Soviets as the war was over before their arrival. However, Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi and his followers got involved in the conflict between Islamic parties and the pro-communist parties, a conflict that continued until 1993. 

In the meanwhile, Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi got introduced to Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy in Beshawer with the help of Palestinian Abi Al Waleed Al Ansari who was a friend of Abi Kutada. They all started working and coordinating together after Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy had left Kuwait to Beshawer after the Second Gulf War.

When Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi witnessed the assassination of Abdullah Azzam in Beshawer in September 1989, Palestinian Abu Kutada left Kuwait following the Second Gulf War in 1991. He founded “Ahel Al Sunnah and Al Jama’a” as his ideological options got closer to Jihadi Salafism. He left to Malaysia. 

The intimate relationship that connected Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi, Abi Kutada and Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy got stronger, but the fast-subsequent events including the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, the commencement of civil war in Afghanistan, the end of Second Gulf War and finally the chase of Jihadists in Beshawer pushed these three men to look for different exits. Abu Kutada decided to go to Britain, and Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy went back to Jordan. Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi chose a different course, so he decided to stay and get involved in the second phase of the civil war in Afghanistan. He joined the training camps of Kalb El Deen Hekmatyar, and particularly in favor of Jallal El Deen Hakani.

Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi was trained in many camps like Sada (Echo) Camp at the border with Pakistan where he got introduced to many Afghani Arabs, most importantly, Salem Ben Sweid, known as Abu Abdullah Al Libi who was later ordered to assassinate the American diplomat Lawrence Folly in Amman in 2002.

Beginning of 1993, Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi decided to go back to Jordan just like many other Jihadis who also returned from Afghanistan. They joined organizations like Jaish Muhammed (Army of Muhammed) and the Arab Afghanis Association. In the 1990s, Palestinian Abi Kutada starred in London and established a media and logistics center that was in charge of supporting Jihadi Salafists. He named his center “Londonstan” as a reference to the continuation of Afghani Jihad. He was the godfather of Jihadi Salafism in Europe and North Africa. He used to help Islamic Fighting Groups in Algeria and Libya through his followers. “Dawn” and “Curriculum” magazines which were secretly distributed to his advocates in Jordan.

As soon as Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi arrived in Jordan, he started communication with Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy to work together for spreading Jihadi Salafism. Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy wrote in his diary that he first met Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi in Beshawer and when they returned to Jordan, Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi visited Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy. He added that Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi was very eager to support theism and the call for Allah. Abu Al Waleed was the person who connected Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy with Al Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi. “We both agreed to work for the sake of Allah Religion and we cooperated in this domain and arranged many classes in different areas of Jordan. We also printed some of my writings and shared them with the public. Young Muslims started to respond to this this and they used to read our publications and letters” Said Al Maqdisy.

Doing these activities was a preparation for the start of Jihadi Salafism that later became a turning point in the history of Jihadi Salafism in Jordan. The new organization was named as “Allegiance to Imam”. This new organization was the fruit of coordination between Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy and Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi. Both of them were very active in advocating Jihadi Salafism. Theoretical knowledge of Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy was added to practical experience of Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi. Through this combination, they managed to attract many followers and advocates. They used to name themselves as “Theists” or “The Group of Theists”. They didn’t agree to be named as “Allegiance to Imam”. Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy preferred what Allah described them as “Group of Theists”.   

In his testimony, Muhammed Wasfi known as Anu Al Muntaser and member of Allegiance to the Imam, mentions that Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi, Sulaiman Hamza, Shareef Abdul Fatah and Khalid Al A’aroury, known as Abu Al Kassam visited him in August 1993 and invited him to establish an organization that believes in Theocracy and considers ruler, constitutions and laws to be some kind of apostasy. Things rapidly advanced. Abu Al Muntaser said that the following day, Abu Musa’ab and Abu Al Kasam came to him and accompanied him to visit Abi Muhammed Al Maqdisy who was living in Al Rasefah. Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi explained what happened the day before. “Now we are together and we want to decide who to be the leader” Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi said. Finally, they agreed that Issam Al Berkawi (Abi Muhammed Al Maqdisy) is the high commander of preaching and Abu Musa’ab Al Zarqawi is the general commander. Abu Al Kassam is, according to them, member of the Shura Council and a curator.

While the new Islamic group was working amidst an eventful period, Jordan was about to sign Wadi Araba Peace Accords with Israel, and ahead of parliamentary elections few months later in 1993. At that time, teams of this new group were busy giving lectures and conducting symposiums, delivering messages and publishing books that all showed the apostasy of the democracy and ruling regime of Jordan and. They preached people that elections are some kind of heresy and apostasy. They attacked all Islamists who believed in participating in elections and peaceful political mobility. Their main target was Muslim Brothers. According to Shareef Abdul Fatah, known as Abu Shareef, Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy used to give lessons in Abu Shareef’s house where more than 30 persons used to gather. Booklets and brochures were distributed to teach people how elections and democracy were considered prohibited as a kind of apostasy.   

Security forces in Jordan managed to dismantle Allegiance to Imam Organization whose members were mostly arrested. 13 members were brought to State Security Court in November 1996. That was before this Organization could carry out any operation in Jordan. Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi and Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy were sentenced to 15-year imprisonment. After Investigations were finished at the Security prisons, convicts were taken to different prisons of Jordan. At a later stage, they were detained in Sawaka prison. Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy said they were moved from solitary confinements to public prisons for trials. He himself was isolated in a solitary confinement as he was a focal convict and was detained in a prison in the north of the country. Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi, as a second focal detainee who was imprisoned in the middle of the country. Finally, they were all put in Sawaka prison to the south of the country.

As for organogram and activities in prisons, Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy said: “The regime was aware of the danger of this organization for prisoners and that their danger goes beyond the bars of jails through books and brochures although I was scuffed in prison. The authorities attempted to isolate us from other prisoners and other prisoners were under pressure not to pray with us. Any prisoner who tried to contact, pray with or say hello to us was punished, and we were separated in isolated dormitories. We ended up in Al Jafre desert prison that was away from the World. However, it became easier for our advocates to visit us in Al Sult as it was not as far as Sawaka prison. When we were in Al Jafre prison, we get closer to Ma’an City where we managed to contact new people there.

Despite all that happened in prisons, new groups of Jihadi Salafists appeared, especially “Reform and Challenge” group which appeared in 1997. Abu Kutada was accused of leading this new group from his place in London. But Cassation Court cleared them. Jordanian security forces managed to dismantle another Jihadi Salafist group in Al Baka’a in September 1998.

Although Jihadi Salafism benefited from imprisonment and utilized it in theory and practice, it led to the dispute between Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy and Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi. Their choices differently crystalized. Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy preferred a long-term strategy based on advocating Jihadi Salafism and insisted on staying in Jordan to preach without getting involved in any conflicts with the ruling regime. He was against abandoning the country to join Jihad fronts abroad. Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi, who was a tough field leader, managed to attract many advocates who believed in his choice. He insisted on direct military action, whether inland or abroad. This dispute between Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi and Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy was clear following the royal amnesty that released all Jordanian prisoners including Islamists and Jihadi Salafists.

With the release of Jihadi Salafists, the dispute between Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy and Al Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi culminated. Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy decided to stay in Jordan and resume his preaching activities, whereas Al Zarqawi left Jordan with few of his followers to Pakistan where he was arrested and later set free. Afterwards, he moved to Afghanistan and established Herat Camps. These training camps were under the supervision of Security officer of Al Qaeda, Saif Al A’adle. At the beginning, the camp was attended by only 40 persons who played a key role in helping Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi at later stages.

11 September attacks, 2001 reversed the power balance of the international conflict between Al Qaeda and its sister Islamist groups that had the same ideology one the one hand, and the United States of America and its allies together with some Arab regimes on the other hand. The beginning was in Afghanistan where Taliban regime was toppled, and leaders of Al Qaeda disappeared. Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi was one of those neutralized leaders, so he left Herat Camps and moved to Iran with the end of Afghani war. Then he moved to Kurdistan in the Northern Iraq where he used to frequently move to Syria and come back secretly. Some of his companions said that he managed to establish a base on 28th of November 2002.  

“Ansar Al Islam” is a case that first appeared in 2003 in which few Jordanians, Iraqi Kurds and some other nationalities were convicted of some crimes especially the assassination of American Diplomat, Lawrence Folly. Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi, Salem Al Sweid, Abu Abdullah Al Libi who was executed, Yaser Fathi Frehat, Muhammed Ameen Nua’man Al Hir, Shaker Al Kaisy, Muhammed Ahamd Taiurra, Muhammed Eissa Da’amas, Ahmad Husein Hasoun and Muhamoud Abdul Rahman Zaher were all subject to a trial in absentia. 

The activities of Jihadi Salafism in Jordan have been traced in many cases like “Salafist Movement in Al Mufrak”, the case of Muhammed Al Shazely, known as Abu Sayaf and the assassination of Head of Anti-terrorism court at the Department of General Intelligence in February 2002, “Cells Organization” in 2002 whose members are mostly from Eastern Amman and other repeated attempts to take military action against Israel.

Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi in Baghdad and his influence on Jordan

With the occupation of Baghdad by the Americans on the 9th of April 2003, Al Zarqawi’s group found a welcoming crucible among Iraqi Sunnis and gained an increasing momentum with building up a military and security network in Iraq. At the beginning, he succeeded in depending on Arab volunteers, basically Jordanians, and he gradually proved himself through many major suicidal attacks

On 19th August 2003, Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi attacked UN Headquarter in Baghdad and killed 22 persons including UN Representative Sergio Fernando Mello and about 100 were injured. Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad was also targeted, but Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi didn’t adopt the attack. One month after the attack against UN Headquarter, the United States of America froze Zarqawi’s bank accounts and offered a prize of 5 million USD to anyone who could provide information that could lead to the arrest of Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi.  

Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi was accused of Istanbul explosion on 20th of November 2003. He assassinated Muhammed Baqer Al Hakeem, head of the Higher Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq together with 83 other persons and injured 125. The suicide attack with a vehicle born improvised explosive device VBIED was launched by Yasine Jurad, Zarqawi’s father-in-law. On 12 November 2003, he killed 19 Italians in an attack on an Italian military base in Al Naseriah, south of Iraq. Another suicide attack hit Karbala’a on 27th of December of the same year. Again 19 persons were killed in this attack. Seven of the dead were soldiers of the International Coalition. Other 200 persons were injured. On 2nd of March 2004, few simultaneous attacks targeted Shia’a in Karbala’a and killed 177 persons and injured 500. One of the key persons for studying the development of Al Qaeda in Iraq is Omar Yousef Juma’a, known as Abu Annas Al Shami, who joined Abu Musa’ab Al Zarqawi middle of 2003. He succeeded in convincing Al Zarqawi in establishing a new group with clear flag i.e. “Tawheed and Jihad Organization”. The paradox was that the title was the same of Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy and the title of his Website on the internet. That was really done in September 2003 when Al Zarqawi established this organization with a stern organogram under Zarqawi leadership. The organogram included military, security, financial media and legislative committees.

The attack in Karballa’a in March 2004 was a turning point in the conflict in Iraq. It released an open horrible Sunni-Shia conflict which reinforced the position Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi and his presence in the Sunni military activities. Sectarian congestion was provoked and the environment of security chaos facilitated activities of Al Qaeda and provided a safe haven for it.

In this context, the United States of America revealed a letter sent from Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi to leaders of Al Qaeda asking them for help in the sectarian war in Iraq. In February 2004, the United States of America doubled the prize for information that could lead to the arrest of Abu Musa’ab Al Zarqawi to 10 million USD. 

Followers of Al Zarqawi managed to get stronger following the battle in Al Fallujah amidst American military and political failure as wrong American military practices like random bombardment helped in provoking many more advocates to join Al Zarqawi’s group. Besides, the sectarian practices of Shia and “Death Teams” working for them caused more to join Al Zarqawi’s group which was coordinating with another Salafist group named: “Anssar Al Islam” (Advocate of Islam)

Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi surrounded himself with the most faithful companions because he rarely trusted anyone. The closest persons to him were Abu Annas Al Shami, Nedal Muhammed Arabyat, Abu Muhammed Al Lubnani, Abdullah Al Juboury, known as Abu Azzam, Omar Hadeed, known as Abu Khatab, Muhammed Jasem Al Essawi, Known as Abu Al Hareth, an Iraqi and Abu Naser Al Libi. Working with this group, Al Zarqawi managed to keep in touch with central leadership of Al Qaeda under leadership of Usama Ben Laden in an attempt to globalize Jihad.

After few months of communication between “Tawheed and Jihad Organization” under leadership of Abu Musa’ab Al Zarqawi and Al Qaeda central leadership, Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda in collaboration with Abu Kutada Al Falastini on 17th of October 2014. The name of the organization became “Jihadi Qaeda organization in Mesopotamia”.

In 2006, the rising graphic line of Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi started to decline as the gap between him and Sunni armed powers and Sunni tribes got wider despite his efforts to assign Iraqi leaders to legalize his existence in Iraq.

Relevantly speaking, we can say that monitoring Jihadi Salafism in Jordan and analyzing its development can’t be done without a close follow-up on Zarqawi’s activities abroad whether before or after the occupation of Iraq. For many reasons, Abu Musa’ab Al Zarqawi became a political symbol for Jihadi Salafists and that caused many to join him, especially focal persons. He was the real commander for his followers abroad. Operations used to be planned by Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi or one of his deputies. That was the golden age for Al Qaeda in Iraq between 2004 and end of 2005. These activities of Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi affected the region as a whole and Jordan in particular. In addition to many attacks, Amman Explosion during that period was one of the most dangerous operations Jordan was exposed to.

One of the most significant attempts by “Tawheed Battalions”, under leadership of Azmi Al Jayousi was the scheduled attack on Intelligence Administration, American Embassy and Prime Ministry Headquarter. The attack was planned by Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi himself, and was intended to kill 80 thousand according to Azmi Jayousi who appeared on Jordanian TV. To carry out such a horrible attack, Al Zarqawi’s organization manufactured tons of chemical explosives and were due to be put in many lorries. Azmi Jayousi admitted that Zarqawi himself planned and coordinated this operation. However, the attack was anticipated on 20th of April 2004 when members of the cells were arrested just before the operation.
On 18th August 2005, Al Akaba explosions were caused by firing Katiyosha Missiles which killed one soldier and injured another one. Muhammed Hassan Al Sahly, Abdullah Muhammed Al Sahly and Abdul Rahman Al Sahly, all Syrians, carried out the attacks, and they were arrested together with the Iraqi leader of the group, Muhammed Hameed. State Security Court sentences the three Syrians and the Iraqi leader to death.  

The terrorist suicide attacks that hit Amman on November 10, 2018 are considered as the worst attacks that Jordan has been exposed to throughout the history of Extremist Jihadi Salafists in general. Three famous hotels in Amman, Radisson Sas, Amman Hayat and Holiday-In were simultaneously targeted by suicide attacks under the supervision of Al Zarqawi himself. The attacks killed 60 persons and injured about 100 others.

Al Qaeda Organization in Mesopotamia claimed responsibility for the attacks which marked the culmination of power of Al Zarqawi’s period of Al Qaeda in Iraq throughout the region. Followers of Zarqawi in Jordan were triumphed. Countdown of Zarqawi’s organization started and the death of Al Zarqawi marked the last episode of this era which had many consequences on Al Qaeda in Iraq and Jihadi Salafists in Jordan. No later than two years from the death of Al Zarqawi, Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy was set free by Jordanian intelligence forces. That was in March 2008. His freedom was based on one condition i.e. to keep away from any military or media activities so as to help Jordanian Government avoid embarrassment.   

The disagreement between Abu Musa’ab Al Zarqawi and Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy goes back to their early days at prison when they argued about Allegiance to the Imam. Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi overthrew Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy and became the real commander of Tawheed and Jihad Organization. Most Jihadi Salafists pledged allegiance to Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi. Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy suffered a lot from members of Tawheed and Jihad Organization. the controversy was related to the way to deal with policemen, security staff and those who deviate from Salafism and any political opponents.

Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy was accused of being indulgent and not stern enough, but Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi was known for his tough and stern in dealing with security forces and police forces. Some unrevealed reasons among followers of Tawheed and Jihad Organization made some suspect the Islamic behavior of Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy. While he was in prison, Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy wrote a letter to Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi entitled: “Advocacy and Advice” in which he clarified that the change in his ideology was due to personal reasons rather that to external factors. He wanted to refute the accusations of Zarqawi’s followers while he was leading Jihad and Tawheed Organization. He clarified his tendency to dedicate himself for writing and preaching.

Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi’s departure to Afghanistan with his key leaders marks the main dispute with Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy who criticized this step as it had caused the evacuation of Jihadis and left the arena vacant. Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy avoided explicit criticism of Al Zarqawi who made horrible mistakes that were the result of immaturity. While criticizing Al Zarqawi, Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy declared that he had a vision and a project that could help their group many consequences and slides that were caused by Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi’s leadership. Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy proposed an integrated project to restore intellectual and administrative initiative that can guide Jihadi Salafism in Jordan within the vision of Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy. He just recalled his early vision of 1990s when established the Theists Society which helped in disqualification of Arab ruling regimes. He was closer to peaceful approaches to advocation of his ideology in Jordan.   

Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy delivered a speech in which he tried to duplicate his experience in Palestine, but through armed struggle against Israeli occupation. Consequently, the internal conflict hit Jordanian Jihadi Salafists. Two main trends appeared. The first one was led by Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy, and the second was led by a group of figures who opposed his new approaches and visions and alluded to some penetration by security agents who were the ghosts behind the scene driving the new resurrection movement.

Those who opposed Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy are led by a group that is not known to the media as they use fake names for camouflage purposes. They used to confront him with books, brochures and essays. Abdul Kareem Ben Issa Al Madni, known as Abu Al Yaman, wrote a book entitled: “Diligence Judgement of fleeing arenas of Jihad”. Abi Al Kasem Al Muhajer wrote an essay entitled: “Al Maqdisy makes a step backwards”. Abi Al Qa’qa’a Al Shami wrote other essays entitled: “Yes, We Left”, “Assad Ben Furat” and “Despots’ Defeater”

On the other side, Al Maqdisy Group issued a repulsive statement against this drift and posted it on the social media and Jihadi forums on the internet. They described the first party as Khawarej [1]who are a deviant group that oppose Sunnis who are claimed to be the reference for Jihadi Salafism worldwide.  

All indicators show that Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy won the first round of the battle through his new project and managed to restore his publicity among Jihadi Salafists in Jordan. He started to get momentum among Jihadi Salafists abroad which is a privilege at least for the time being. However, the main challenge is to what extent he and his followers can stand and continue their project.  

In addition to the retreat of Al Qaeda in Iraq and the prevalence of reviews of ideology among Jihadi Salafists worldwide, there are three main factors that underly this. First, Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy didn’t give up his ideas and views and remained honest to his vision that didn’t abandon Jihadi Salafism ideology or its general outlines. Jordanian Government has not been helpful to him and the relation with Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy is still anxious and unrelaxed. He might go back to prison any time.  

Second, despite his dispute with Al Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi, Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy has got a charismatic character and has a well-known history in prisons and concentration camps, whereas his opponents are not known to Jihadi forums abroad and don’t have the same publicity inland. This weakens his opponents and limits their influence among Jihadi Salafists.   

Third, and most important factor is that the situation in Jordan is completely different from that in Iraq even at the time of triumph that prevailed Jihadis there. This triumph was not interacted with by Jordanian Jihadi Salafists; it was something symbolic rather than real. In reality, Jordanian Jihadi Salafists have been under full observance by Security forces. As for social and political life, they have been ousted and unable to bless or adopt any armed activities in Jordan for fear of security consequences and the possibility of exposure to striking security measures without having the means to confront these measures.

Finally, Jihadi Salafism in Jordan has constituted a political, social and religious phenomenon that started, culminated and declined. Anyway, the survival of this drift depends on the continuity of its peaceful options inside Jordan at least after the death of Abi Musa’ab Al Zarqawi, and the resurrection of Jihadi Salafism by Abu Muhammed Al Maqdisy who knows how to deal with the Jordanian authorities depending on his charisma simultaneously with his presence among Jihadi Salafists. He succeeded in creating survival conditions in accordance with the situation in Jordan.


[1] A group of Muslim who is said to have deviated from the main course of Islam and usually oppose the Sunni majority.


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