Nearly 20 arrested in alleged plot against Jordan's King Abdullah II
By JOBY WARRICK AND STEVE HENDRIX | The Washington Post | Published: April 3, 2021
WASHINGTON — Jordanian authorities on Saturday arrested nearly 20 people and sought to restrain the movement of the kingdom's former crown prince amid what officials called a "threat to the country's stability."
Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, the oldest son of the late King Hussein and his American-born fourth wife Queen Noor, was told to remain at his Amman palace amid an ongoing investigation into an alleged plot to unseat his older half brother, King Abdullah II, according to a senior Middle East intelligence official briefed on the events.
The move followed the discovery of what palace officials described as a complex and far-reaching plot that included at least one other Jordanian royal as well as tribal leaders and members of the country's security establishment.
Additional arrests were expected, said the intelligence official, who like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing security sensitivities surrounding the ongoing law-enforcement operation. A Jordanian adviser to the palace confirmed that arrests had been made related to a "threat to the country's stability."
Prince Hamzah served as Jordan's crown prince for four years before the title was transferred to the current monarch's eldest son, Hussein.
Hamzah was informed of the investigation by Jordanian military officers who arrived at his house with an escort of guards as elsewhere arrests were getting underway, the intelligence official said. While not placed under arrest, he was told to refrain from travel and from posting on social media, the intelligence official said.
The arrests of other officials were reported by Jordanian news outlets.
It was unclear how close the alleged plotters were to carrying out the plan, or what, exactly, was intended. The intelligence official described the plan as "well-organized" and said the plotters appeared to have "foreign ties," though he did not elaborate.
Among those arrested was Sharif Hasan, who is a member of the royal family, and Bassem Awadullah, a former senior official in Jordan's Royal Hashemite Court, the official said. An investment banker and CEO of Tomoh Advisory, a consultant firm based in Dubai, Awadullah had also served as special Jordanian representative to the Saudi government, and held Jordanian and Saudi passports, the intelligence official said.
Jordan, a close ally to the United States, has been hit hard economically by the pandemic and massive waves of refugees from Syria, its northern neighbor. King Abdullah has ruled the country since King Hussein's death in 1999 and has cultivated close ties with a succession of U.S. presidents. The resource-poor kingdom of 10 million is a major partner in the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State and has assisted U.S. forces in security operations around the globe.
Hendrix reported from Jerusalem. The Washington Post's Sarah Dadouch in Beirut contributed to this report.