Safety and Security
The threat of terrorism remains high in Jordan. Transnational and indigenous terrorist groups have demonstrated the capability to plan and implement attacks in Jordan. In August 2010, a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) detonated next to a vehicle carrying three USG contractors as it was traveling through an Amman suburb; the contractors did not suffer any serious injuries. In January 2010, an official Israeli motorcade was struck by an IED as it was traveling from Amman to the King Hussein/Allenby Bridge border crossing; passengers in the vehicles were unharmed and the vehicles sustained minor damage. Several rockets believed to have been launched from the Sinai Peninsula struck the port city of Aqaba in April and August 2010. In the latter attack, one rocket destroyed a taxi cab outside of a hotel, killing the driver.
The Department of State remains concerned about the continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations, and other violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas. In October 2012 the Jordanian government foiled a terrorist plot, arresting a number of Al-Qaeda operatives targeting public areas and the U.S. Embassy in Amman. Travelers to Jordan should be cognizant of the fact that Al-Qaida in Iraq affiliates have carried out terrorist activities against U.S. and Government of Jordan (GOJ) targets in Jordan.
Terrorists often do not distinguish between U.S. government personnel and private U.S. citizens. Terrorists may target areas frequented by Westerners, such as tourist sites, hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, liquor stores, shopping malls, transportation hubs, places of worship, expatriate residential areas, and schools. In light of these security concerns, U.S. citizens should maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of their surroundings, and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. It is especially important for travelers to be unpredictable in their movements by varying their times and routes and maintaining a low profile. Moreover, U.S. citizens should avoid contact with any suspicious or unfamiliar objects and immediately report the presence of such objects to local authorities. U.S. government personnel overseas have been advised to take the same precautions.
Demonstrations are common. Some, especially smaller ones, have turned violent, leading security officials to intercede. Because demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence, travelers should avoid all protests and large gatherings of people. Many demonstrations occur on Fridays near mosques following noon prayers. Consequently, you should exercise special sensitivity and caution when visiting or traveling near mosques and religious sites during holy days and Fridays. Demonstrations and other forms of unrest have occurred on public university campuses in Jordan. Some acts of violence on university campuses have involved the use of firearms. Anti-U.S. demonstrations have also taken place in front of the U.S. Embassy. Travelers should avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings of people.
Tribal violence in Jordan remains a concern. Clashes between feuding clans or families periodically erupt without notice and sometimes involve an escalation in violence, including the use of firearms. In some cases, Jordanian security services are slow to respond or may opt to let the violence subside before intervening. When necessary, authorities have closed major roads, including a key road near Amman’s international airport, or parts of cities to contain the violence.
U.S. citizens should avoid the border area with Syria. Police and security officials have arrested weapons and drug smugglers, as well as foreign fighters attempting to enter Syria to fight in the country’s ongoing civil war. Some riots have occurred at the Ramtha/Jaber border crossing, resulting in the burning of key municipal facilities. The Department of State also advises against travel into Iraq.