Zarqawi: A Jordanian Terrorist or Just a Terrorist?

Jordan has already tried Zarqawi in absentia several times. For attempting to blow up the Radisson in 1999, for the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad bombing and for killing a U.S. diplomat in Amman in 2002. His latest sentence has been that of the death penalty, so you really can’t go any further than that.

However what about treason? In Jordanian law your citizenship can be revoked if a “Person commits misconduct that undermines the security of the state”

Zarqawi has plotted to kill and has killed Jordanians on Jordanian soil. And even if this wasn’t a state security issue, what defines a Jordanian? Is it not safe to assume Zarqawi, by attacking Jordanians should no longer be considered a Jordanian? Is it not safe to assume that a terrorist act is also treason against one’s people?

On the other hand, I believe taking away a person’s citizenship would mean Zarqawi could not be tried in Jordan. Though what is the liklihood of that? What is the liklihood that Zarqawi will ever be caught, brought to Jordan and sentenced to death? Ahmad Chalabi, was sentenced in absentia for Bank Fraud, where is he now? Oh that’s right, he’s the Deputy Prime Minister in Iraq, the country next door.

Which brings me to this:

The western media and even some of the Arab media has taken it upon itself to constantly refer to Zarqawi as “the Jordanian terrorist…”, a label that is tarnishing Jordan’s image abroad and regionally. You never hear about Osama Bin Laden “the Saudi terrorist…”, and with Osama steping out of the public scene since almost a year ago, Zarqawi has had much more air time with his activities in Iraq every week.

In North America not many people are aware of Jordan at all. If you fill out an application and put “Jordan” as an answer to one of the questions asked, the person processing behind the counter will look it over puzzled and say “Jordan? Where’s that?”. But geography illiterate westerners aside, our image was much better several year ago. Back then when you said “Jordan” people would think either “Michael Jordan” or “King Hussein”. The King was the only symbol of Jordan, it’s only evidence of existance anywhere on a map back then. And hey, with Michael Jordan winning an NBA championship, he was pretty good for “Jordan’s image” back then too.

Whereas now I hear: “Jordan? Oooh! Zarqawi!? Terrorist!?”. Jordan is now synonymous with Zarqawi, synonymous with terrorism.

Although the language of the media has changed dramatically in the past week since the bombings in Amman that have been met with protests in Jordan. In Canada when I turn on the news I don’t hear “Jordanian terrorist” as often. I guess because it’s too difficult to say “terrorism in Jordan” by a “Jordanian terrorist” and not imply that it was a domestic act of terrorism.

On any account I find myself torn with such a paradox, my mind cluttered with problematic questions like: would I rather Zarqawi have a death sentence that he will most likely never ever have to face all the while still be refered to as a “Jordanian Terrorist”, or would I rather see Jordan and Jordanians denounce him as one of their own, rid ourselves of all involvement with him?

Will the latter solution solve the labeling and the image problem?

Will we ever as a people feel the justice promised by the former solution?

Is a death sentence even just…enough?


  • Naseem, Bin Laden was in fact referred to as a Saudi in the media, always with a mentioning that he’s from a wealthy Saudi family. Saudi Arabia revoked Bin Laden’s citizenship, I’m not sure when they did that but I believe it was in the late 1990s, he was still referred to as Saudi after that, or at least Saudi born. if the news piece was long enough they would mention that Saudi has stripped him from his citizenship. After he became the huge celebrity he is, they stopped referring to him as Saudi or Saudi born.

    I actually was wondering if Jordan would do the same thing and strip Zarqawi from the Jordanian citizenship, I’m all for it.

  • Oleander, yeah you’re right, they revoked it in 95 i think. Although I’m not sure if I entirely agree with how he was refered to. I have personally never heard the words “The Saudi terrorist, Osama Bin Laden” before. You are right, there is reference to his birth and origin but it is fairly rare. In any account the way the media talks about these two figures is very very different.

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