Overall Crime and Safety Situation
U.S. Embassy Amman does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED AMMAN AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Please review OSAC’s Jordan-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.
The Jordanian economy, regional events, and the monetary cost of essential commodities all serve as potential catalysts for an increase in crime.
Amman’s RSO continues to track an increasing trend in crime. Criminal activity in Jordan continues to affect work and life in the community. Although criminal events are less prevalent in western Amman, crime remains a concern for the RSO. Westerners are encouraged to travel in pairs or small groups. Individuals are urged to increase their vigilance in areas where opportunistic thieves operate. When carrying a purse, wear it over one’s neck and shoulder. Wallets and other valuables should be carried concealed and in front pockets. Jordanian police continue to warn the public to exercise vigilance when leaving banks and ATMs.
The Public Security Directorate’s (PSD) Criminal Information Department (CID) had not released official crime statistics for 2016, so 2015 statistics are provided for context. In 2015, PSD reported 24,244 crimes, which is in line with the five-year average. Crimes against persons, public administration, and public safety were at five-year highs in 2015, well above reported incidents from 2010-2013. Official reports also note that attempted murder (464 incidents), murder (76 incidents), aggravated assaults (988 incidents), and kidnapping (190 incidents) were also at five-year highs in 2015. Attempted theft, criminal theft, auto theft, and currency counterfeiting were below average, but public administration bribery and firearm discharges were at five-year highs in 2015.
The most common crimes directed against Americans and other Westerners are petty crimes, especially in crowded areas and at tourist sites. A sampling of criminal acts in Jordan between June-December 2016 include:
- In June 2016, a Jordanian government building in Ain Al Basha was set on fire by an unknown assailant using a Molotov cocktail.
- In July 2016, a Jordanian marked police car conducting routine vehicle checks was fired upon by two wanted men with automatic weapons. The two assailants were subsequently arrested.
- In October 2016, police arrested a man for meeting a teenager, presumably through social media, and taking inappropriate pictures of her. He was found guilty of a misdemeanor crime.
- In November 2016, an Embassy employee’s car was broken into in Deir Ghbar. While the employee was inside her child’s school, an assailant smashed the rear window of the car and stole several items. The incident was reported to the police, but the perpetrator was not located.
- In December 2016, gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying passengers headed toward Wadi Musa in Ma’an. The incident occurred at night; authorities were unable to identify the assailants, and no injuries were reported.
Violence at universities continues to be a problem, and many assaults involve weapons. Several disturbances at universities were incited by disagreements stemming from university elections, tribal affiliations, and perceived grievances and injustices.
In 2016, the U.S. Embassy received a decreased number of sexual harassment reports, including inappropriate physical contact and stalking. In 2016, there were three reported incidents involving sexual assaults directed at or witnessed by Embassy personnel or dependents. One incident involved potential inappropriate touching of a dependent, and two incidents involved groping a dependent or household staff. The Embassy also received reports of three sexual assaults/rapes of U.S. citizens, one assault case, and three domestic violence/sexual abuse cases. Many sexual harassment/assault incidents affecting Westerners involve taxi drivers inappropriately touching female passengers riding in the front seat. Women are encouraged to ride in the back seat of taxis, dress modestly, carry a charged cell phone, and avoid travel to unfamiliar areas – especially at night.
Vehicle theft and vehicle break-ins are also concerning. In 2016, the RSO received several reports of crimes involving vehicles, including three break-ins to vehicles owned by Embassy employees.
In 2016, the U.S. Embassy received several reports of thefts and break-ins at diplomatic residences. Incidents ranged from full-scale burglaries to minor incidents (theft of patio furniture, propane tanks, diesel fuel). These incidents, particularly propane and diesel fuel theft, can be significant issues for the American expatriate community.
Firearm possession, transport, and sales remained a serious concern for Jordanian authorities. In 2016, Jordanian Security Agencies conducted 424 raids resulting in the arrest of 2,089 wanted persons and seizure of a total of 510 illegal weapons. From August-November 2016, the following notable incidents involving firearms occurred in Jordan:
- In August, gendarmerie and police officials conducted a raid in Ma’an to apprehend several dangerous suspects. A massive firefight ensued, resulting in the perpetrators using hand grenades and weapons and causing the death of the main suspect and a gendarme officer.
- In September, a CID officer in Ma’an was shot and wounded by an assailant when he and his partner tried to arrest him.
- In October, Jordanian security officials conducted raids in Al Jafer where they seized drugs and illegal weapons.
- In November, police arrested a homeowner who was manufacturing illegal weapons (pistols, shotguns) at his work shop in Irbid and selling them on the black market. Police seized 52 illegal weapons and ammunition.
- Also in November, a security officer was shot and wounded by an assailant when responding to fire at a banana field in Albalqaa.
Personnel are encouraged to remain vigilant when visiting areas where Americans or foreigners are likely to congregate, such as hotels, nightclubs, restaurants, tourist venues, and places of worship.
2016 witnessed a continuing trend of Internet scams, primarily using fictitious social media accounts purporting to be current or former U.S. government officials. These incidents have included fictitious Linked-In accounts, Facebook posts, and use of other cyber platforms. As a result, the RSO encourages personal vigilance to protect against cyber solicitation, identity theft, and scams. The RSO reiterates that individuals should not send money to any person or business entity that you do not know personally. For more information on international financial scams, please see the Consular Affairs website.
Other Areas of Concern
Due to ongoing conflicts in the region, anti-ISIS Coalition activity, and border security concerns, the U.S. Embassy maintains a strict travel policy for all Embassy personnel. The policy mandates specific restrictions and requirements for official travel in close proximity to the Syrian and Iraqi borders and travel to refugee camps. Embassy travel to these locations must be conducted in armored vehicles equipped with tracking devices. Prior to any such travel, the RSO consults with Jordanian security officials to ascertain hazards and, if necessary, the RSO arranges additional security measures.
Celebratory gunfire, especially during weddings, funerals, and upon the release of academic results is also a concern. Additional issues include altercations between tribes and marrying families, honor killings, and retaliatory attacks.
Although confined to northern areas, explosive ordnance landed in Jordan on several occasions in 2016. The likely point of origin was Syria. The RSO continues to monitor these events as a significant concern.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Physical road conditions in urban environments are generally good. Driving conditions in rural areas can be hazardous, as roads are less developed. The RSO strongly discourages individuals from driving outside greater Amman at night, as poor lighting compounds driving hazards associated with unmarked traffic patterns, livestock crossing, and non-traditional (erratic) driving.
Traffic accidents are common and often result in serious injuries/fatalities. Fatality rates are significantly higher than in the U.S. Excessive speeding and failure to obey traffic regulations are common. Motorists should drive defensively and use extreme caution; seatbelts should be worn. In 2016, the RSO responded to 122 reports of traffic accidents involving American diplomats or their dependents. Most accidents are minor and are resolved at the scene, although some parties may escalate tensions and demand immediate compensation. For more information on self-driving, please review OSAC’s Report “Driving Overseas: Best Practices.
Public Transportation Conditions
U.S. citizens are encouraged to use licensed, commercial taxis, available at most major hotels. Passengers should insist that the driver does not pick up additional passengers. Women are encouraged to sit in the rear of the taxi.
Other forms of public ground transportation are not recommended.
Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA) is approximately 15 miles (25 kilometers) south of downtown Amman; the drive between the two locations takes approximately 30-45 minutes. In light of regional events, security has been enhanced at QAIA, to include secondary screening at the point of departure. QAIA is one of 10 airports recently designated as subject to TSA requirements for direct flight to the U.S. prohibiting some forms of electronic equipment from traveling with passenger in the cabin.
King Hussein International Airport (AQJ) is close to Aqaba, in southern Jordan. King Hussein International Airport is 175 miles (280 kilometers) south of Amman; the drive between the two locations takes approximately four hours.
The airports adhere to international air safety standards. Security at QAIA and AQJ is controlled by Jordanian security agencies. Direct flights to the U.S. receive enhanced screening.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED AMMAN AS BEING A HIGH-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns
The threat of terrorism remains a major concern in Jordan. Local, regional, and transnational terrorist groups/extremists have demonstrated the willingness and capacity to plan and execute attacks in Jordan. As noted in the 2016 Country Report on Terrorism, Jordan remains a key ally in combating terrorism and extremist ideology. Jordanian security services participate in Coalition military operations and bolster defenses against terrorist incursions on their borders. Jordan hosts U.S. military personnel for anti-ISIS operations, joint exercises, and training. Jordan has shown itself a willing and capable partner in the fight against terrorists. Specifically-direct plots did manifest in 2016:
- The Jordanian State Security Court (SSC) took legal action against numerous individuals deemed to be terrorists under local law, including the arrest and prosecution of men accused of seeking to join Al-Nusra Front (ANF) and ISIS. Other arrests and prosecutions involved supporting/recruiting for ISIS and attempted travel to/from Syria in support of extremist activities and also for “propagating ISIL ideology,” a charge often used for online activity.
- In March, Jordan’s security services launched a preemptive raid on a suspected ISIS safe-house in Irbid. The operation lasted over 12 hours and resulted in the death of one Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF) officer and seven suspected terrorists. Jordan’s security services had arrested 13 individuals with suspected links to the cell and rounded up several more in the weeks following the raid.
- In June, a lone gunman attacked a GID sub-facility near the Palestinian refugee camp of al-Baqa’a. Five Jordanian intelligence officers were killed.
- In June, seven Jordanian soldiers were killed after a suspected ISIS member attacked a border post near Rukban (northeast border) with a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED).
- In September 2016, a prominent Jordanian Christian writer was assassinated in front of a Jordanian Court by a lone gunman for allegedly re-posting a cartoon on Facebook that satirized ISIS but was deemed religiously offensive.
- In November 2016, three U.S. soldiers were killed by a Jordanian guard at the gate of Prince Faisal Air Force Base in Al-Jafr (south Jordan), as they were trying to enter the base. The investigation is ongoing.
- On December 18, 14 people, including four attackers, were killed in Karak and Qatraneh when gunmen opened fire on PSD at multiple locations. The attackers holed up in Karak Castle for a five-hour gunfight with authorities. Two days later in a separate incident, police and gendarmerie were conducting police raids in Karak for two wanted individuals, the suspects opened fired and killed three gendarmerie and one policeman. The two suspects were arrested with one being injured in the shootout.
Throughout 2016, security officials arrested extremists, many for posting pro-ISIS videos or statements on social media. The government charged them before the SSC for using the Internet to propagate terrorist ideology.
Below is a sampling of security incidents and arrests to provide background information regarding the intent and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) of hostile actors:
- In 2012, Jordanian security services disrupted a complex terrorist plot that targeted several Amman shopping centers and cafes frequented by diplomats and Westerners. The plot, orchestrated by al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI), was designed to take place in several phases, culminating in an attack on the U.S. Embassy. Authorities arrested 11 suspects.
- In 2010, roadside Improvised Explosive Devises (IEDs) targeted a U.S vehicle and an Israeli vehicle. One IED detonated near the passing vehicle of three State Department contractors in Sahab. The attack caused minor damage to the vehicle but no injuries. In another incident, an IED detonated near an Israeli diplomatic motorcade on the Dead Sea Highway.
- From 2006-2008, Jordanian security officials arrested numerous terrorism suspects while disrupting several terrorist plots. A gunman opened fire on a group of tourists in central Amman, wounding six before killing himself. A gunman also opened fire on foreigners in Al-Hashimiyah Square in Amman, killing one and injuring six.
- In 2005, al-Qa’ida claimed responsibility for the bombings of three international hotels in Amman that resulted in 60 fatalities. AQ also claimed responsibility for rocket attacks in Aqaba that killed one Jordanian soldier and wounded another. Some 17 AQ affiliates were arrested for planning to assassinate Jordanian and Americans officials.
- In 2002, U.S. diplomat Lawrence Foley was assassinated in his driveway in Amman.
Terrorists often do not distinguish between official personnel and private citizens.
Protests in front of the U.S. Embassy were infrequent in 2016 and included no more than a few dozen individuals, but the potential for an increase in frequency and intensity exists.
Anti-American/anti-Western sentiment is inflamed by regional issues. U.S. involvement in Iraq and Syria has fueled anti-American sentiment. Ongoing military operations in the region are viewed unfavorably by certain segments of the Jordanian population. A 2015 Pew Research Center survey found that 83% of Jordanians have an unfavorable view of the U.S., significantly above a global median of 31%. Americans are encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance and take steps to increase their security awareness. It is especially important for travelers to vary their times and routes to decrease predictability while maintaining a low profile.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED AMMAN AS BEING A HIGH-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Political violence has focused on Arab-Israeli relations, government subsidies, and local grievances (access to water, government services). Violence in the West Bank and Gaza has led to demonstrations and anti-government/anti-U.S. sentiment in Jordan. While most instances of political violence in 2016 were not directly related to U.S. interests, the potential for directed political violence remains high.
There are frequent rallies, demonstrations, and protests, though the number of large, anti-government demonstrations has decreased in recent years. The majority of these events occur after Friday prayers. RSO estimates that there were 103 events in 2016.
Throughout 2016, protestors burned tires, destroyed vehicles, and clashed with gendarmerie forces in Amman.
- In one incident, streets were blocked by protestors burning trash containers and blocking the roads with vehicles to protest the government’s decision to raise fees of transferred vehicle ownership and customs.
- A tribal family blocked the streets in the Alkaser area of Karak using burned tires and stones to protest a man’s murder.
- Protestors blocked the streets in Al Rashdeiah area in Aqaba using burned tires and stones to protest a shooting incident.
- In Dhiban area outside of Madaba, unemployed youth staged a sit-in to protest to the governor of a lack of jobs. The police and gendarmerie were called in and a riot ensued with tear gas fired at the protestors and arrests made.
Protests regarding government policies, lost jobs, wages, and other perceived injustices continue to fuel demonstrations, albeit at a lower rate than past years. The economic situation in Jordan was also the reported cause of multiple protests. Demonstrations and protests can escalate to violent/disorderly demonstrations, often resulting in road closures and confrontations with security forces. Permits are required for demonstrations and security personnel monitor the events to ensure public order.
Individuals should avoid large crowds and demonstrations, while taking measures to avoid areas where they are most likely to occur (city centers, universities, refugee camps), particularly during periods of increased tension.
The RSO has tracked more than 5,500 demonstrations since the beginning of the Arab uprisings, though other estimates place the figure as high as 10,000. The majority of demonstrations have been small, contained, and mostly non-violent.
According to the 2015 census, Jordan’s population is approximately 9.5 million, including 2.5 million non-citizens. In addition to Palestinian refugees, most of whom are Jordanian citizens, Jordan hosts approximately 655,455 UNHCR registered Syrian refugees (though government officials report as many as 1.3 million Syrians live in Jordan) and 60,875 Iraqi refugees. This influx has strained government resources, as the country confronts its own socio-economic challenges including unemployment, rising inflation, and increased costs of basic necessities.
Tribal affiliations or other associations often exacerbate tensions and fuel unrest. From June-September 2016, Jordanian security forces intervened in numerous tribal disputes. One incident in Ajloun resulted in three people being wounded by gunfire. Another incident involved a tribal dispute in Irbid in which several people were injured in a brawl. In Ain Al Basha area, a group of people opened fire into the air creating widespread panic and fear in the community.
The region experiences regular seismic activity. The Jordan River Valley, which marks Jordan’s western border, constitutes the northern section of the Great Rift Valley. None of the recent small-scale seismic tremors have caused significant damage. Historically, larger earthquakes have damaged many of Jordan’s archeological sites. The last major earthquakes occurred in 1927 and 1936.
On January 24, 2017, an avalanche occurred on a mountainous area near Naemeh Bridge causing a land slide outside Irbid. The land slide destroyed parts of the major road of Jordan Street leading from Amman to Irbid. There were no reported injuries or deaths.
Jordan suffers from a lack of water, and drought is a recurring concern; the country may experience six months or more of no significant rainfall. Nevertheless, flash floods do occur.
- In November 2015, a flash flood damaged vehicles, homes, and businesses while leaving motorist stranded in Amman. The flash floods resulted in widespread road closures and at least five reported fatalities.
In January 2015, over 2,000 people were rescued from their vehicles during a snow storm; dozens of accidents and injuries were reported, including several fatalities.
Rolling power outages are infrequent but do occur, especially during extreme weather, when the demand for electricity exceeds the country’s production capacity.
Piracy of digital media and counterfeiting of computer software is prevalent, despite efforts by the government to stem the flow of counterfeit products.
Counterfeit currency has also been seized in numerous arrests, often in conjunction with illicit drugs and firearms. In 2015, Jordanian security officials reported 67 incidents of counterfeit currency.
Personal Identity Concerns
Gender plays a significant role in Jordanian society. One should be cognizant of gender-specific norms, and mitigate gender biases and cultural insensitivities.
Jordan is tolerant of religious minorities, but proselytizing is illegal.
- Two private U.S. citizens were deported in 2015 after allegations of proselytizing.
Due to regional tensions, practitioners of certain faiths may experience increased scrutiny and unwelcome attention.
Consensual same-sex conduct is not illegal; however, societal discrimination against LGBTI persons is prevalent, and LGBTI persons are targets of abuse. Conservative cultural and religious norms restrict Jordanian LGBTI persons from being open about their sexual orientation. Same-sex displays of affection in public may elicit severe reactions. Laws against adultery or breaches of modesty may be used against LGBTI travelers. In 2015, the RSO received several reports of LGBTI Jordanians being detained and interrogated by security officials. RSO also monitored some parliamentarians and public commentators who called for the arrest/expulsion of U.S. diplomats who voice public support for LGBTI rights.
While making strides to accommodate individuals with disabilities, Jordan does not have uniform mechanisms to accommodate persons with wheel chairs and other disabilities.
Jordan’s geographical location between drug producing and drug consuming countries makes it a primary transit point for illicit drugs. It is illegal to use and/or distribute drugs. Penalties for drug offenses are severe and are considered crimes that threaten state security, so consular access for arrestees can be delayed pending further investigation. Captagon, heroin, hashish, and marijuana are predominant drugs in Jordan.
- In 2016, Jordanian authorities seized over 79 million captagon (fenethylline) pills, 43 kg of heroin, 8,193 kg of hashish, and 1,209 kg of marijuana. The sampling below highlights a few examples of narcotics seizures in 2016:
- In February 2015, the SSC sentenced two Syrians to three years imprisonment for plotting to kidnap an American in Zarqa on behalf of al-Nusra Front.
The Jordanian Public Security Directorate (PSD) is proactive and responsive when dealing with criminal activity. The PSD is the primary law enforcement entity that responds to emergencies.
The targeting of Jordanian law enforcement and security personnel remained a concern in 2016. There were several attacks on security personnel, including ambushes of police vehicles and attacks on security facilities and officers. In 2016, at least 17 Jordanian security services officers were killed as a result of targeted attacks most likely due to terrorism related operations.
How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment
U.S. citizens detained by authorities should immediately request that they notify the American Citizen Services Unit at the U.S. Embassy (962-6-590-6000 or 962-6-590-6500). The Embassy can provide a list of local attorneys, visit detainees, and contact family and friends. Jordanian authorities may treat Jordanian-Americans as Jordanian and not notify the Embassy promptly. In such cases, a family member should contact the Embassy on the detainee’s behalf.
Crime Victim Assistance
If you are the victim of a crime, contact the U.S. Embassy Consular Section at 962 6 590-6000 for assistance. Please see the Consular Affairs website for information.
The PSD is responsible for law enforcement, protection of visiting dignitaries, routine crime prevention, traffic control, locating missing persons, and protecting public venues. The PSD is headed by the Director General of Public Security who reports to the Minister of Interior.
The General Directorate of the Gendarmerie is primarily responsible for maintaining internal security, to include riot control and the protection of diplomatic missions. The Gendarmerie also supports other security agencies as needed.
The Directorate of Military Security (DMS) is subordinate to the Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF) and is the military’s primary security and counterintelligence element.
The General Intelligence Directorate (GID) is considered one of most important and professional intelligence agencies in the region.
Contact Information for Available Medical Services
Arab Medical Center, 5th Circle, Amman
Emergency Room Tel: +962 (6) 592-1199 x750
Ambulance Tel.: +962 (6) 592-5801
Al-Khalidi Medical Center, 4th Circle, Amman
Emergency Room and Ambulance Tel.: +962 (6) 464-4281 x666
Available Air Ambulance Services
London SOS Air Ambulance
Tel: 00 44 20 8762 8008
All visitors are encouraged to have insurance coverage for hospitalization and medical evacuations.
Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance
The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Jordan.
OSAC Country Council Information
The Amman Country Council meets intermittently and has approximately 10 members. Please contact OSAC’s Middle East and North Africa team with any questions or to join.
U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information
Embassy Address and Hours of Operation
The U.S. Embassy is located on Al-Umawiyeen Street, Abdoun District, Amman.
The Embassy is open Sun-Thurs, 0800-1700.
Embassy Contact Numbers
Telephone: 962 6 590-6000
After-Hours Emergencies: 962 6 590-6500
U.S. citizens are encouraged to monitor the news, heed travel warnings, and participate in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), in order to receive information from the U.S. Consulate in event of an emergency.
Jordan Country Information Sheet