Jordanian intelligence and security officials have just announced that they recently captured a cell of 17 Islamic State operatives allegedly plotting to launch catastrophic attacks to destabilize the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
The dramatic series of arrests were actually made in November and are only now being made public.
The news of the disruption of the chilling and “massive” ISIS plot comes just as the White House announced that Vice President Mike Pence is coming to the epicenter this month and will visit not only Egypt and Israel but Jordan, as well. Counter-terrorism will be a key element of the V.P.’s policy agenda.
Let me just say as someone who has traveled to Jordan at least ten times over the past decade — including four times in the past eighteen months — I’m deeply encouraged (and relieved) that Jordanian officials identified the plot and were able to deal with it decisively. Indeed, I shudder to think what might have happened had ISIS been able to carry through with their plans. The King, whom I regard as America’s most faithful Sunni Arab ally and a highly effective leader in the on-going fight against Radical and Apocalyptic Islamism, deserves a great deal of credit for maintaining such an impressive level of stability that has clearly eluded Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and other countries in the region.
Readers of my most recent trilogy of novels — The Third Target, The First Hostage, and Without Warning — know that these political thrillers imagine a scenario in which ISIS conspirators plot to assassinate King Abdullah II, attack and destroy the official palace in Amman, and then overthrow the monarchy and enslave all of Jordan under the black flags of Radical — even Apocalyptic — Islamist rule. I pray regularly that such a worst case scenario never comes to pass. Yet this latest news shows that ISIS remains intent on seizing Jordan for the forces of darkness.
This is the novel series that the King began to read in January of 2016. Yet rather than banning me from his kingdom, His Majesty invited my wife and me to come visit with him and his generals and intelligence and security officials in one of the most fascinating trips we have ever been a part of. This led, in turn, to the opportunity to bring a delegation of Christian leaders to visit Jordan last November to meet with senior Jordanian security and diplomatic officials, and to have a working lunch with King Abdullah last November. While there, we discussed a wide range of issues, including how to strengthen the U.S.-Jordanian alliance, how to help Jordan in its counter-terrorism efforts, how to help Jordan care for the two million-plus Syrian and Iraqi refugees that have flooded their country, and how best to move the Arab-Israeli peace process forward.
There have been significant strains in the U.S.-Jordanian relationship since President Trump’s December announcement about Jerusalem. The King and most Jordanians — including most Jordanian Christians — see the Jerusalem issue very differently than most Americans, and most American Evangelicals. The core of the strategic alliance is quite solid in my view, but there are challenges that need to be addressed.
Let us pray that the conversations between Mr. Pence and the King are not only candid but constructive and help advance both the alliance and the prospects for lasting regional peace. Let us also continue to pray for the Jordanian government and people that the kingdom remains solid, secure and at peace. Jordan is a vital ally, and we need her to be strong and prosperous.
To read more, here are links to some of the major news stories: