Intelligence agents in Jordan have arrested 11 men they say were planning a serious of suicide bombings using explosives smuggled in from Syria. The plans were still in the early stages, but the group was reportedly looking take advantage of the chaos in the neighboring country to bring weapons across the border and target shopping malls, hotels, and residential areas where diplomats and other Westerners might be found.
Jordan has remained relatively quiet in recent years despite the numerous uprisings and protest movements that have sprung up among their many Middle Eastern neighbors. The last significant terrorist attack in the country took place in 2005, when a suicide bomber attacked a hotel lobby in the capital of Amman. (The seventh anniversary of that attack is next month.) However, just this month the capital saw some of its first large-scale demonstrations since the Arab Spring began, after King Abdullah disbanded Parliament and called for new elections.
Jordan has taken in nearly 200,000 refugees from the Syrian civil war, but had mostly stayed out of the conflict until this morning, when it was announced that a Jordanian solider was killed in a gun fight at the Syria border, after clashing with militants who were trying to cross over into Syria illegally.
The 11 men who were arrested were all Jordanian citizens, but had traveled in and out of Syria recently, where they were gathering weapons and other materials. The are said to have been communicating with al Qaeda operatives who were helping plan their attacks over the internet.