An assailant killed five people at a government intelligence office at the largest refugee camp in Jordan Monday in what the government is calling an act of terrorism. News outlets report that attacks are relatively uncommon in this pro-Western country.
Jordanian authorities said they arrested the lone-wolf suspect hours after the shooting. Reports on the identities of the victims vary, but it is clear some of those killed were intelligence officers. Others were security guards and office workers. The shooter used an automatic weapon to carry out the attack, according to a Jordanian newspaper.
Mohammed Momani, a government spokesman, said the fact that the event happened on the first day of Ramadan is “clear evidence of those terrorists' criminal behavior and extremism,” according to NPR. CNN’s translation of Momani’s quote replaced “extremism” with “deviation from our religion.”
Jordan’s Queen Raina sent out tweets condemning the attacks Monday.
"At the start of the month of giving and mercy, a despicable act of terror has taken the lives of five of Jordan's sons," she wrote.
Jordan is known as a moderate Muslim country and a key U.S. ally. It has cracked down on Islamic extremism within its borders, prosecuting many Islamic State sympathizers. “Imams have been banned for preaching pro-IS sermons, and returning jihadists have faced anti-terrorism charges before the State Security Court,” Freedom House reported.
“Several hundred Jordanians have been sentenced to prison by special military courts for expressing support for IS on social media,” AP reported.
Despite its proximity to Iraq and Syria, Jordan does not experience many terrorist attacks. This may be due to its aggressive anti-ISIS policies, an analyst for NPR said.
“Jordan is a close U.S. ally and works closely with the Americans on security issues. Jordan's security services are considered to be among the best in the region, and terrorist attacks have been rare,” Greg Myre of NPR said.
Jordan is part of the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS. It has conducted air strikes in Iraq and Syria and in March killed a cell of seven ISIS members who had planned terrorist attacks across the country.
The Baqaa refugee camp near the security office is home to a large population of the descendants of Palestinians who arrived in Jordan after the 1967 conflict with Israel. Further, many Syrian refugees have arrived at the camp since its 2011 civil war.