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Analysis: Jordan Attack - Do Militants Benefit?

Police officers and relatives of Kamal Milkawi, one of the Jordanians killed in a shooting incident at a U.S.-funded police training facility near Amman, carry his body during his funeral in Zarqa, Jordan, Nov. 10, 2015.

The Jordanian police officer who gunned down several people at a police training facility Monday near Amman may be a “lone wolf," according to some analysts, who added the killings may represent growing discontent in the region – and a growing threat.

"It is a sign of anger and a resentment," said Labib Kamhawi, a Jordan-based political analyst. "To downplay it would not be smart, because it did not come out of emotions that are not connected to the general mood of the country."

That mood, Kamhawi said, is increasingly resentful toward the United States because of its policies in Iraq and Syria, and its relationship with Israel.

The victims in Monday's attack at the Jordan International Police Training Center were two American and one South African contract trainers, a Jordanian translator and another Jordanian who was wounded in the shooting and later died in the hospital. The gunman, a Jordanian police officer, was shot dead at the scene.

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said it is "premature" to speculate on a motive.

Jordanian investigators have not revealed whether they have found links between the attacker and any terrorist network. But, alone or with a group, the attack could still bolster the Islamic State militant group, said analyst Yan St-Pierre of international security consulting group MOSECON.

"It is possible that it is yet a lone wolf, acting in ISIS’ name," said St-Pierre, using an acronym for the Islamic State group. "And that makes it all the more difficult to track down people like that because they are loners. They are people that can actually hide what they think really well."

FILE - The United States funds security training at the Jordan International Police Training Center near Amman, Jordan.
FILE - The United States funds security training at the Jordan International Police Training Center near Amman, Jordan.

Social media fans sympathy

One reason why IS has been able to expand despite international efforts to destroy it, added St-Pierre, is that through its social media it creates "fan boys" among sympathizers. Those fan boys then carry out attacks, even without any planning by IS.

Attackers that are fans, rather than actual IS members, also make themselves look more tough by using the name of the widely feared and hated organization.

Jordan is considered a staunch ally of the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State, a militant group deeply unpopular among Jordanians.

But just because Jordanians don’t like IS doesn’t mean that they all approve of the U.S. using Jordan as a staging ground, according to Kamhawi in Amman.

"Some Jordanians might feel that this is a sign of stability," he said. "But the majority does not look at it positively."

Anniversary of bombings

The assault coincided with the 10-year anniversary of one of the worst attacks in Jordan’s history, when suicide bombers at three hotels in Amman killed more than 50 people on Nov. 9, 2005.

Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility for the bombings.

The U.S. government has used the police training center in Muwaqqer, about 30 kilometers from Amman, in cooperation with Jordan, to train tens of thousands of police cadets from the Middle East.

U.S. President Barack Obama said the United States will work closely with Jordan to determine what happened in the Monday attack.

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