A rare armed attack on a Jordanian intelligence agency facility has left five people dead, including three intelligence officers. The attack took place on Monday at the General Intelligence Department (GID) building in the Baqa’a refugee camp, located just north of the capital Amman. Built in 1968, Baqa’a is the largest of Jordan’s 10 government-sanctioned refugee camps, and houses 100,000 Palestinians —approximately 10 percent of the country’s 1 million-strong Palestinian population. Witnesses said the attack was carried out by a single individual, who appeared to be operating alone. He is said to have slowly made his way up to the building before pulling a gun and shooting the guard dead. He then entered the building and began firing, killing four more people, three of them GID intelligence officers. He then fled the scene before police arrived.
Monday’s attack was an extremely rare terrorist incident in Jordan, whose population is largely shielded from the carnage in neighboring Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The last time a major terrorist attack took place in Jordan was in 2005, when suicide attacks against three luxury hotels in Amman killed 60 people and injured near 100. The attacks was carried out by Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the group that later rebranded itself as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In November of this year, a Jordanian police officer opened fire at a training center near the capital, killing five people, two of them Americans. He was later shot dead by security guards.
It is believed that Monday’s attack was carried out by someone who was inspired by ISIS. Jordan has been an ISIS target for a long time, because of its strategic alliance with the United States in the war against the militant Sunni group. Last year, the government of Jordan made the country’s Prince Hassan airbase available to the US-led coalition that is fighting ISIS. Additionally, Jordan is the only Arab country that is actively taking part in the bombing campaign against ISIS. Late on Monday, government sources in Amman said a suspect had been apprehended following a shootout with police in the Jordanian capital. He is said to have been acting alone. There is no word yet on whether he is a Jordanian citizen and/or a resident of Baqa’a.