Interactive Infograph: How are the Four Karak Castle Terrorists Connected?

Interactive Infograph: How are the Four Karak Castle Terrorists Connected?

December 24, 2016

Translated by Michelle Balon

With the official silence on any information related to the terrorists that were killed in Karak Castle and those that were arrested during the raids, details surrounding last Sunday’s Karak operation and the subsequent raids remain unclear. Despite this, the names of the four perpetrators killed in the Karak Castle have been revealed and confirmed by their relatives. The ISIS-affiliated Amaq News Agency has since released a statement claiming responsibility for the attack and declared the names of the deceased.

The two brothers Assem and Hazem Abu Rumman, Mohamed al-Khatib, and Mohamed al-Qarawneh were the armed men who killed ten people in Qatraneh and Karak Castle before being shot dead by security forces on Sunday night/Monday, wrote Al-Ghad newspaper. Sources that were close to the four deceased men confirmed to 7iber that all of them had – at various points in their lives – expressed support for jihadist organizations. Some of them had previously attempted to travel to Syria to join the fighting.

The information available on a number of people that were acquainted with the four terrorists indicates that they all either promoted, joined, or attempted to join jihadist organizations. The interactive visualization below shows several of these relationships, including the relationship between the two Abu Rumman brothers and al-Khatib, and that of al-Khatib and al-Qarawneh. (Click on the names to see the person’s background, and click on the question marks to see how they’re connected).

Karak

In 2014, Hazem and Assem Abu Rumman packed their bags and bid farewell to their mother, Sahiya, in the town of Al-Qasr in Karak. They told her that they were traveling to Amman for work accompanied by their second cousin Mu’adh. Sahiya told 7iber that the three men were more than just relatives, they had been friends since childhood.

Later that day, Hazem and Assem came back home after being stopped by security forces in the airport and prevented from traveling. They admitted that they had intended to travel to Syria and were later detained for three months by the General Intelligence Department. During that time, Sahiya told 7iber that she would visit and check up on them. Mu’adh, however, was able to reach Syria through Turkey, and news of his death in the city of Homs was published in 2015.

Before Mu’adh, another relative of the Abu Rumman brothers traveled to Syria to fight. Ahmed, Sahiya’s nephew and a captain in the Royal Jordanian Air Force, left for Syria in 2013. He was killed in the Syrian city of Al-Hasakah in 2014 while fighting alongside ISIS.

After Assem and Hazem were released, they returned to work selling wholesale clothing until about one and a half months ago, when they told their mother that they intended to buy a restaurant from a man named Mohamed al-Khatib. After Sahiya asked around about al-Khatib, she found out that he had ties to ISIS and so, joined by her oldest son Mo’tasem, who works with  security agency, rejected Hazem and Assem’s plan. Sahiya told 7iber that she didn’t want her sons to have any type of connection to people affiliated with ISIS.

A few days after Sahiya refused their purchase of the restaurant, Mohamed al-Khatib and his father came to her home and expressed their interest in buying a piece of land that she had put up for sale. She immediately refused, and found out later that someone else had purchased the restaurant and that al-Khatib had opened another store in Qatraneh. This was the last of what she heard about al-Khatib and his family, she told 7iber.

Sahiya, whose husband passed away years ago, has four sons and two daughters. Her oldest graduated with a law degree from Al-Zaytoonah University and joined a security agency. Assem, 30 years old, cut short his university studies in Al-Zaytoonah University to join the Criminal Investigation Unit in 2007, where he remained for four years before resigning from service in 2011 to be self-employed in the clothing sales industry. At 29 years old, Hazem studied accounting in a community college. After the death of Hazem and Assem, security forces arrested the two other brothers and they remain detained until now.  

A young man called Hamza brokered for two other people to live in the Qatraneh apartment owned by Mohamed Eid al-Hajaya’s family, then to rent a nearby restaurant. According to al-Hajaya, the two men introduced themselves as al-Khatib and al-Qaysi, and along with a third person had participated in the attack against security officers, that started at the apartment last Sunday.

Al-Ghad wrote that al-Qarawneh and al-Khatib had rented a restaurant in Qatraneh; however, it is unclear whether al-Qaysi is a fabricated name for al-Qarawneh or a third person involved in the attack. It also remains unclear if Hamza was involved in the operation itself.

One of Hamza’s relatives and neighbors in the town of al-Qasr told 7iber that Hamza had been detained by the General Intelligence Department since Thursday night, three days before Sunday’s attack. He had been arrested in 2014 following an attempt to cross the border into Syria to join the fighting, according to the supreme court ruling. His relative Qutayba, who had preceded him to Syria and continues to fight alongside ISIS in al-Raqqah, had assisted him in the attempt. Qutayba and Hamza were tried and convicted by the State Security Court and Hamza was sentenced to prison for two and a half years, according to the case file that 7iber got. He was released in early 2016.

Qutayba is the son of Abdel Majid al-Majali, also known as Abu Qutayba al-Ordony. Abdel Majid is known for having fought in Afghanistan against the Soviets, where he met the founder of al-Qaeda Osama bin Laden and in Iraq against the American forces, according to an old interview with him published in the Saudi Arabian Elaph website. The interview, published in 2005, states that Abu Qutayba had a close relationship with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi that began in 1988 and was instrumental in recruiting him to Afghanistan before the later gained fame as a jihadist leader.

Abu Qutayba was arrested in December 2014 and tried by the State Security Court for recruiting people to join armed groups and terrorist organizations and for funding terrorists. According to the indictment issued against him at the time, he is a supporter of the al-Nusra Front.

One of Hamza’s relatives told 7iber that although Hamza was never a good student, “after prison, he started talking as if he were a Muslim scholar.” His relative added that he often saw him with Mohamed al-Khatib and Mohamed al-Qarawneh in al-Qasr, and that “they would always stay late after prayers in the mosque.”

Hamza’s relative, who lives in the town of al-Qasr and has known al-Khatib and al-Qarawneh since they were young boys in the town of al-Jada, clarified that they are related through marriage. Each of them had recently married the other’s sister and subsequently moved to live in al-Qasr.

Sahiya told 7iber that she refused to receive her sons’ bodies. She told the responsible authorities that she didn’t want to bury them, but requested that the responsible authorities release her two remaining sons if they are proven innocent.