This AP story, “A city at the centre of a storm,” raises the curtain a bit on jihadist activity in “moderate” Jordan:
SALT (Jordan): This city – with its numerous churches, its liquor stores and its past as a cosmopolitan trading hub – was an unusual one to suddenly develop a reputation as a centre of Islamic radicals travelling from Jordan to fight in Iraq.
Jordanian officials say it is undeserved, the result of a series of misunderstandings. In fact, they say, the city is home to only a small handful of the Jordanians known to have joined the insurgency in Iraq.
More misunderstandings! Isn’t it funny how, when it comes to Islamic jihad terrorism, everyone — Muslim and non-Muslim — seems to lose his bearings and powers of comprehension. Oh, what a staggering complexity is Islam! How few are those who truly understand it, even among those who call themselves Muslims! It is only a few piercingly insightful types, a convert to Sufism here, a scholar of the house there, who have attained to the true understanding of what it is really all about. But ah, if only they would share their secret decoder rings with the rest of us!
Nevertheless, all sides acknowledge the city of Salt has its share of disaffected Muslim youths dismayed by economic problems, angry at foreign troops on Muslim lands and vulnerable to messages of extremism.
It was the city’s custom of holding public wakes that brought publicity here.
Specifically, it was the wake for a native son Raed Mansour al-Banna, who was accused of carrying out the biggest suicide bombing in post-war Iraq – an attack on Feb 28 in Hilla, south of Baghdad, that killed 125 people.
Even more specifically, looks as if al-Banna suited up as a suicide bomber and blew himself up at a health clinic in Al-Hilla, killing 132 people and injuring 120.
His family held a solemn three-day ceremony, which was erroneously reported by a Jordanian newspaper as a “celebration” to honour a “martyr”.
That outraged Iraqis. Thousands of Iraqi Shi’ites rioted against Jordan, assaulted its heavily guarded embassy in Baghdad and raised tensions between governments.
On March 20, Baghdad and Amman recalled their envoys for “consultations” in a tit-for-tat diplomatic spat.
Since then, the truth about the wake emerged – and the Jordanian government said evidence showed al-Banna had nothing to do with the Hilla blast.
Instead, he carried out an attack in which he died in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, where he was buried after the attack. The identity of the Hilla bomber remains unknown.
Ah, well, that makes it all better then. Al-Banna blew himself up somewhere else, killing other people, not Iraqi Shi’ites, but Iraqi Kurds.
The Jordanian charge d’affaires has taken up his post in Baghdad again, and Iraq has promised to return its envoy soon.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II’s disapproval of his ministers’ handling of the dispute reportedly helped lead to the government’s resignation on April 5.
Still, Salt – a city of 83,000 people spread over the hills 25km northwest of Amman – bears the burden of the reputation.
“Salt came to the attention of many because the customs of its tightly knit tribal community allows for wakes to be held, like that of al-Banna, unlike other areas in Jordan where suspected fighters were killed and buried quietly,” said Asma Khader, the spokesman of the government that resigned last week.
She said it was “inaccurate to accuse Saltis of militancy”, considering there were suspected fighters from other Jordanian cities, like Zarqa – the hometown of one of the top terror leaders in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi – and the wider phenomenon of militancy in other Muslim nations….
Keep passing the buck and sooner or later everyone can agree it was the Israelis who did it. And of course, it has nothing to do with Islam, no, no, no!