- The Washington Times - Monday, September 22, 2014

Fears have mounted in Jordan during recent days that Islamic State extremists are plotting attacks like the coordinated suicide bombings that ripped through Western-owned hotels in the nation in 2005.

Jordanian security forces recently arrested several individuals who have confessed to connections with Islamic State commanders in Syria. According to local news reports, security sources say the suspects have confessed to being entrusted by Islamic State commanders with carrying out terrorist plots inside Jordan.

The development, which follows last week’s capture of eight other suspects accused of promoting and recruiting for the for Islamic State inside Jordan, has renewed fears that the Syria- and Iraq-based extremists aim to hit regional targets in the nations with close diplomatic and counterterrorism ties to Washington.

Such concerns are tied to the reality that the Islamic State movement, which now controls territory straddling the Syria-Iraq border, was born out of the predecessor group al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) that carried out a massive attack in the Jordanian capital of Amman in 2005.

U.S. intelligence and military officials have long blamed AQI for the series of coordinated 2005 suicide bombings that killed 60 people and injured more than 100 others at the Grand Hyatt and Radisson hotels, as well as the Days Inn, in Amman. The hotels were known to be frequented by foreign diplomats and American visitors.

American intelligence officials have said the attack was the work of then-AQI leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was later killed by a U.S. military airstrike in Iraq.

The concern among Western and Jordanian authorities now is that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may be bent on emulating the 2005 attacks that proved al-Zarqawi’s cabability to strike Western targets beyond Iraq’s borders.

With such concerns as a backdrop, U.S. intelligence officials began stepping up cooperation with Jordanian counterparts, according to a report in early September by the Associated Press.

The CIA is presently believed to be involved with creating a special task force help Jordan deal with the threat, according to the AP report.

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