Jordan: our son not an extremist, say gunman's family

Jordan: our son not an extremist, say gunman's family
4 min read
12 November, 2015
Relatives of the Jordanian policeman, who shot dead five contractors Monday - two Americans, two Jordanians and a South African - say he was not affiliated with any radical group.
Relatives say the authorities are yet to give them details of the shooting [Getty]
The relatives of 29-year-old Jordanian Captain Anwar Abu Zaid are in shock after he shot dead three foreign police trainers and two Jordanian interpreters at a police training facility in al-Muwaqqar, east Amman.

Abu Zaid also injured also injured two other US contractors, three Jordanian police officers, and one Lebanese lieutenant.

Abu Zaid's relatives say there is a lot of mystery surrounding what happened, as some officials hinted he had been radicalised
The relatives say the authorities are yet to inform them of the details and circumstances of the shooting, pointing out that they learned of incident from the media.

Abu Zaid's relatives say they sense there is a lot of mystery surrounding what happened, with some in the authorities trying to hint Anwar Abu Zaid, who is religiously devout, had been radicalised.

Abu Zaid's relatives reject these claims and also deny Anwar had any mental health issues.

The village of Rimoun, where Abu Zaid hails from in the Jerash Governorate north of Amman, is also in shock.

Many residents flocked to the family home to express solidarity and address rumours about Anwar, who died during the shooting, calling him a martyr.

"We are all Muslims. Are prayers and fasting now considered extremism?" Fadi, Captain Anwar Abu Zaid's eldest brother, told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

Fadi said his brother worked for the security services for 11 years, pointing out that his job included fighting extremism when he served with the Public Security Directorate [PSD].

"The training facility where he worked was sensitive, and hosted Americans and foreigners," he added. "They could not have hired someone suspected of extremism."

Fadi said his brother was very moved by the Islamic State group's brutal execution of Jordanian pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh, and knew he could meet the same fate.

Fadi confirmed reports about his brother's intentions to retire and work in Saudi Arabia, and said: "Most of our youths have left Jordan because of extreme poverty and the policies of the government."

'Lone wolf'

Abu Zaid might have been a 'lone wolf' carrying out an attack without direct links to the Islamic State
However, Hassan Abu Haniyeh, expert on Islamist groups, believes Abu Zaid might have been a "lone wolf", carrying out an attack without direct links to IS.

For his part, psychologist Mohammad Habashneh did not rule out the deceased policeman could have had mental disorders and/or was radicalised, despite his relatives' denials.

Salman al-Saad, former MP who spoke to al-Araby al-Jadeed and uncle of the police captain, rejects this.

However, he suggested a "provocation" could have been behind his nephew's actions, as happened with Jordanian soldier Ahmed Daqamseh, who killed a number of Israelis in 1977 after they allegedly mocked him during prayer.

Abu Zaid's family have said they refuse to receive his body until they know the full truth behind the incident.

The captain is survived by two boys aged four and two.

He held a law degree and previously served in the judicial police, and then in customs, before joining the Preventive Security Service.

He was later hired to work as trainer in the facility that saw Monday's attack.

Government investigating

Meanwhile, a senior official said Tuesday that the government is working closely with the authorities of countries whose citizens were among the victims shot dead by the Jordanian police officer.

"The concerned authorities are in direct contact with their counterparts in the victims' countries, and we report progress in the investigations related to the incident to them," government spokesperson, Mohammad Momani, told local press.

Responding to a question on the motive behind the shooting, Momani, who is also minister of state for media affairs and communications, said: "We are waiting for results of the investigation."

He called on the public and the media not to circulate any rumours before the investigation concludes.

Stressing that this incident is not common in Jordan, Momani said "our security system" is and will remain strong.

Earlier on Monday, US President Barack Obama said the United States is taking the attack "very seriously".

"Obviously a full investigation is taking place," Obama said during an Oval Office meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

"We take this very seriously, and we'll be working closely with the Jordanians to determine exactly what happened."