Jordan has the military capacity to withstand an advance on its borders by the Islamic State, the Jordanian king asserted, after 11 members of the extremist group were arrested for an alleged terror plot in the Hashemite Kingdom.
“We have retaliated to several contacts over the past several months to those who have come across our borders or tried to come across our borders,” King Abdullah II said in an interview with CBS’s Sixty Minutes on Sunday. “So we have been somewhat aggressive to make sure our borders are defended.”
He added that the kingdom’s borders were “extremely secure,” and noted that countries in the region were united in their determination to contain the jihadist threat in Syria and Iraq.
“ISIS, I think, has triggered an understanding that its time for all of us to make up our minds on the fight of good against evil,” he said, using one of several acronyms for the group. “And this brings all of us together from all religions on different sides of the divide are we going to fight the good fight.”
The Jordanian king went on to state that the threat posed by the Islamic State was unique, in the sense that the group funded itself and was not dependent on foreign factors.
“They can produce within a year, in a year cycle, up to almost a billion dollars worth of oil derivatives that they are obviously selling at a low price about $30 barrel,” he said. “Which means they can pay a lot of foreign fighters come to their country. They can buy weapons.”
Abdullah II contended that the Islamic State’s phenomenal surge could have been avoided, had the US and the international community taken action to track and dismantle the extremist group’s sources of revenue.
“[The rise of the Islamic State] could have been prevented if the international community worked harder together to make sure funding and support to the original groups in Syria were not allowed to get to the extent that they were,” he said. “I think we could have done a better job in making sure that earlier on it was identified who the bad people were and action by the international community was taken not to allow that to happen.”
A security official in Jordan said Sunday that police had arrested 11 members of the Islamic State. The suspects confessed to planning “terrorist operations” in the country, he said.
The 11 alleged IS members “admitted their links to the leadership of the Daesh organisation in Syria and that they were charged with carrying out terrorist operations in Jordan targeting a number of vital interests,” the official said, using the IS group’s Arabic acronym.
Security forces were continuing their investigation into the group, the source added in comments published by state news agency Petra.
Earlier this month, Israel told the US that should the extremist group start operating in neighboring Jordan, it will not hesitate to act, according to a Channel 2 TV report which cited diplomatic sources.
The report did not specify what actions Israel might take if Islamic State started impacting upon Jordan, but Israel is wary of its eastern neighbor being challenged by the brutal terror group, and would seek to guard against further inroads that would directly threaten Israel.
Israel has provided the US with intelligence and satellite images on Islamic State positions, as well as information on Westerners joining its ranks, to assist Washington in its ongoing operation against the Islamic State, reports earlier this month indicated.
The US has been working on building an international coalition to battle the terror group which has seized large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria and driven thousands to flee.
US President Barack Obama officially announced a campaign this month, largely comprising airstrikes, against the terror group and urged international and regional states to join in the effort. The US has launched over 100 airstrikes on the group’s positions since last month.
On Friday,the State Department named 55 countries, including Jordan, as partners in the international coalition against the Islamic State and as contributors in some form or another in the fight against the extremist group.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has also indicated there was a role for Iran in the fight, even as both Washington and Tehran have publicly ruled out direct cooperation.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel was doing its part in confronting worldwide jihadist terrorism, though not all of its efforts are known to the public and expressed Jerusalem’s full support for the American-led offensive against the Islamic State.
Amid reports that the West may consider easing sanctions on Iran in exchange for its help fighting the Islamic State, Netanyahu on Sunday lambasted such an arrangement as “absurd,” saying he’d never accept such a deal.
Times of Israel staff, AFP, and AP contributed to this report.