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Wednesday, April 13, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Pro- Al Qaida Salafists tied to Jordan protests

AMMAN — Al Qaida supporters have joined and are organizing the opposition against King Abdullah in Jordan.


Al Qaida supporters, called Salafists, have been demonstrating against the Hashemite royal family in what prompted a crackdown by the regime. The supporters waved Al Qaida flags in several cities, including Irbid, and called for the implementation of Islamic law.

"Neither east nor west, just Islamic unity," the demonstrators chanted in a demonstration on April 8.

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Islamic sources said Al Qaida supporters first began to organize demonstrations in March 2011, which have included Palestinians and Bedouins, Middle East Newsline reported. So far, five Salafist protests took place as Jordanian intelligence arrested suspected organizers.

"The storm of military jihad is coming from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Yemen," Mohammed Al Khatib, a Salafist cleric, said. "It will definitely go through Jordan, unless you correct the situation and implement Allah's law."

So far, the leader of the opposition movement was identified as being part of the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing, the Islamic Action Front. IAF has been organizing massive weekly demonstrations in calls for democratic reforms, including the reduction of the king's power.

Al Qaida was said to have established a presence in Irbid as well as in Palestinian refugee camps throughout the kingdom. Supporters have also called for the release of detainees of the movement, including such figures as Abdul Nasser Khamysa, Abdul Latif Abu Omar and Furas Al Nalawi.

On April 12, Salafist leader Abed Shehada Al Tahawi said four members had been released from prison during the previous night. He said the government caved in to threats by the pro-Al Qaida movement to hold a protest near the Interior Ministry.

"The government knows that we mean business and that we do not get intimidated by security forces," Al Tahawi said. "When our four brothers were released, we canceled the planned protest."

Al Tahawi has warned Jordanian intelligence and security services of an Islamic backlash similar to that in Egypt and Yemen. He said the Salafists, 300 of whom have been detained in Jordan, would avenge any operation by the security forces. Other movement leaders raised the prospect of suicide strikes.

"Any action will result in a similar response," Al Tahawi said. "All options are open."

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