Jordan detains 700 jihadists since Karak attack

Jordanian security forces patrol Karak Castle

AMMAN - Jordan has arrested 700 jihadists since a deadly December attack claimed by the Islamic State group, a leading lawyer for Islamist groups said Thursday, charging some of them had been tortured.
Musa Abdullat told a Amman news conference that none of those detained had links to IS, suggesting they were rounded up as a "precautionary" measure ahead of a March 29 Arab summit to be held in Amman.
"Since the beginning of the year and following the Karak attack... a total of 700 people from various Islamist groups have been arrested," Abdullat said, adding that most were radical Sunni Muslim Salafists.
Jordanian authorities were not immediately available for comment.
According to Abdullat, "lawyers have been prevented from meeting with the detainees" and some of the prisoners had been denied visits from their families.
"We have received many complaints from families of detainees who say that they have been tortured by the security services," he said.
Some prisoners had reportedly been forced to shave off their beards -- a symbol of radical Islam -- while others were beaten and suffered broken bones and teeth, he charged.
The December 19 attack in Karak, home to one of the region's biggest Crusader castles, killed seven policemen and two Jordanian civilians as well as a female Canadian tourist, and wounded 34 others.
The attack was claimed by IS and Jordan said it had arrested a man suspected of having funded the assault.
But Abdullat said that none of the detainees have any links to IS or to Al-Qaeda and other groups fighting in neighbouring Syria.
"They are members of various Islamist factions" based in Jordan, he said.
Jordan is part of the US-led military coalition against IS in Syria and Iraq and it has carried out air strikes targeting the extremist group. It also hosts coalition troops on its territory.
The kingdom was hit by four attacks in 2016, including a suicide attack in June that killed seven guards near the border with Syria that was also claimed by IS.
Thousands of Jordanians are believed ot be followers of IS and Al-Qaeda.
According to Abdullah, the number of Jordanian followers of jihadist groups has risen to some 5,500 while he estimated the number of Jordanians battling in Iraq and Syria at around 1,500.
Salafist sources have in the past said that some 4,000 Jordanians are followers of jihadist groups.