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Poverty a threat to stability in Jordan, fueling militancy – U

Jordanians chant slogans to show their support for the government against terror during a rally in Amman, Jordan, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015. Jordanian warplanes bombed Islamic State targets on Thursday, state TV said, after Jordan’s King Abdullah II vowed to wage a “harsh” war against the militants who control large areas of neighboring Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)The Associated PressShare PhotoReddit
Jordanians chant slogans to show their support for the government against terror during a rally in Amman, Jordan, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015. Jordanian warplanes bombed Islamic State targets on Thursday, state TV said, after Jordan’s King Abdullah II vowed to wage a “harsh” war against the militants who control large areas of neighboring Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
Jordanians hold a rally to show their support for the government against terror in Amman, Jordan, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015. Jordanian warplanes bombed Islamic State targets on Thursday, state TV said, after the country’s King Abdullah II vowed to wage a “harsh” war against the militants who control large areas of neighboring Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)The Associated PressShare PhotoReddit
Jordanians hold a rally to show their support for the government against terror in Amman, Jordan, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015. Jordanian warplanes bombed Islamic State targets on Thursday, state TV said, after the country’s King Abdullah II vowed to wage a “harsh” war against the militants who control large areas of neighboring Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
Jawdat al-Kaseasbeh, a brother of slain Jordanians pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh, reacts to people gathering to show their support for the government against terror during a rally in Amman, Jordan, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015. Jordanian warplanes bombed Islamic State targets on Thursday, state TV said, after the country’s king vowed to wage a “harsh” war against the militants who control large areas of neighboring Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)The Associated PressShare Photo

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Jawdat al-Kaseasbeh, a brother of slain Jordanians pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh, reacts to people gathering to show their support for the government against terror during a rally in Amman, Jordan, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015. Jordanian warplanes bombed Islamic State targets on Thursday, state TV said, after the country’s king vowed to wage a “harsh” war against the militants who control large areas of neighboring Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
Jordanians chant slogans to show their support for the government against terror during a rally in Amman, Jordan, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015. Two posters of Jordan’s King Abdullah II are held at right and the others show slain Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)The Associated PressShare PhotoReddit
Jordanians chant slogans to show their support for the government against terror during a rally in Amman, Jordan, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015. Two posters of Jordan’s King Abdullah II are held at right and the others show slain Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — In Amman’s Hussein slum, where jobs and hope are scarce, many were once drawn to the militant ideas of the Islamic State group as a way to a better life.A video showing a Jordanian pilot being burned to death triggered a national backlash against the extremists, including in Hussein, which is home to about 40,000 Palestinian and Syrian war refugees and their descendants.But public opinion can be fickle, and some experts say the festering problems that feed militancy across the region, such as high unemployment, remain a threat to the stability of Jordan, a key U.S. ally. The government’s approach — arresting IS sympathizers at home and bombing its strongholds in Syria and Iraq — is not enough to combat extremism, they say.”Poverty, isolation, feeling left out of development drives a lot of the grievances among the youth,” said Sultan Barakat, a Jordan expert at the Brookings Doha Center. Among these groups, anger at IS will eventually make way again for the appeal of jihadi ideas, he said.The pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, was captured in December after his F-16 crashed into Islamic State-controlled territory in northern Syria. Earlier this week, the militants released a video showing him being burned to death in an outdoor cage.In the Hussein neighborhood, residents rallied behind the government’s pledge of a “harsh” response against the militants. Jordan has been carrying out airstrikes against IS since September, as part of a U.S.-led military coalition.”Everyone was angry here,” said Mohammed Ibrahim, 23, who sells coffee from a small roadside stall. He and two friends, sipping black coffee from paper cups, said they watched the video repeatedly. One in the group, 22-year-old Mahmoud Khaled, said it gave him nightmares.A white banner strung across a garbage-strewn alley declared that the local youth club “condemns the crimes” against the pilot. A delegation from the neighborhood — considered a refugee camp, although it is blended into the city — drove to the pilot’s home village in southern Jordan on Thursday to express condolences to his family.Emad Issayed, head of the neighborhood council, said there had been widespread sympathy for the Islamic State group in Hussein before the pilot was killed.”They had new ideas, new projects,” he said of the appeal of the militants, who declared a caliphate, or Islamic state, in areas under their control last year. “People believed they (the militants) represented an Islamic way of life, and could improve their lives as well.”In recent years, life in Hussein has only gotten harder, he said. About 4,000 refugees displaced by Syria’s civil war have moved into the neighborhood, driving up rents and competing for scarce jobs.”They impose a real burden on us,” said Issayed, 57.A majority of young men are unemployed or underemployed, spending time in small family shops where they are not really needed. Issayed said drug and alcohol abuse is common. “It’s a desperate situation,” he said.Sympathy for Islamic State isn’t only limited to the poor, said Marwan Shehadeh, an expert on jihadi groups.


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