The Associated Press quotes Rafik Hariri Center Nonresident Fellow Ramzy Mardini on how the crisis in Iraq has sparked regional concerns:

Jordan, a close U.S. ally with a well-equipped and well-trained military, would present a far more formidable foe than Iraq’s demoralized army, making any cross-border foray unlikely, analysts say.

“What is most worrisome is that radical groups may already have cells inside Jordan among their supporters,” said Ramzy Mardini, a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council, based in Amman. “Militants in Syria have conducted attacks in several capital cities in the region of neighboring states. There’s much concern that Amman isn’t immune from experiencing the same.”

Extremists have targeted Jordan before. The Islamic State’s precursor, known as al-Qaida in Iraq, was founded by a Jordanian, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Under his leadership, the group carried out a triple bombing on Amman hotels in 2005 that killed more than 50 people.

Jordan is home to a growing movement of jihadists and ultraconservative Salafis, Mardini said. Hundreds of Jordanians are known to have traveled to Syria to fight in the uprising against President Bashar Assad. Some have joined extremist groups, including the Islamic State.

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Related Experts: Ramzy Mardini