The terror group calling itself the Islamic State rolled through major parts of Iraq and occupies land in Syria, but its ambitions spread far beyond the land it now controls.
Jordan finds itself on the front lines with the Islamic State.
Looking at the map, Jordan shares a long border with both Syria and Iraq. You can also see that Jordan serves as a buffer on Israel's eastern border.
The group's aggressive moves toward Jordan's border have many worried about the future of King Abdullah and the Hashemite Kingdom.
In a recent video, Jordanians fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq tore up their passports and pledged to slaughter the king.
"From their point of view Jordan is an artificial country. It has to be removed. Next stop is Israel," Jonathan Fine, an Israeli analyst with the Institute for Counter-terrorism, told CBN News.
"In their eyes, the definition of the enemy is Western civilization, not a foreign policy of one government or another," he said. "And when they say they target the Judeo-Christian alliance as their major enemy, they mean what they say."
For now, Jordan, usually a quiet political player, sits on the front lines, part of the new reality in an ever-changing Middle East.
Just 10 days after a ceasefire ended a 50-day Israel-Hamas conflict, the Israeli army is “making plans and training” for “a very violent war” against Hezbollah in south Lebanon, an Israeli TV report said Friday night, without specifying when this war might break out.
The report, for which the army gave Israel’s Channel 2 access to several of its positions along the border with Lebanon, featured an IDF brigade commander warning that such a conflict “will be a whole different story” from the Israel-Hamas conflict in which over 2,000 Gazans (half of them gunmen according to Israel) and 72 Israelis were killed. “We will have to use considerable force” to quickly prevail over the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, “to act more decisively, more drastically,” said Colonel Dan Goldfus, commander of the 769th Hiram Infantry Brigade.
The report said Hezbollah has an estimated 100,000 rockets — 10 times as many as were in the Hamas arsenal — and that its 5,000 long-range missiles, located in Beirut and other areas deep inside Lebanon, are capable of carrying large warheads (of up to 1 ton and more), with precision guidance systems, covering all of Israel.
Israel’s Iron Dome rocket defense system would not be able to cope with that kind of challenge, and thus the IDF would have to “maneuver fast” and act forcefully to prevail decisively in the conflict, Goldfus said.
Israel’s focus on the threat of the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) has increased significantly in recent days in the wake of the revelation that the latest American journalist beheaded by the jihadists was Jewish and an Israeli citizen.
“ISIS’ growing power and its proximity to Israel could pose a strategic threat to Israel,” opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) told reporters a day after the Islamic State released a video showing the beheading of American-Israeli journalist Steven Sotloff.
Herzog and many other Israeli officials are concerned not only by the fact that the Islamic State is inching closer to its borders both in Syria and by threatening Jordan, but also by burgeoning homegrown support for the Islamists in neighboring states and among the Palestinians.
Islamic State flags have been spotted in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and even Jerusalem. On Wednesday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon signed an order officially outlawing the Islamic State, a move that would make it a crime to raise money or otherwise express support for the jihadist movement.
While Israelis are happy to see Western powers finally taking the threat of the Islamic State seriously, there is frustration that Palestinian groups like Hamas receive alternative treatment.
But, because Hamas is tolerated by the US-backed Palestinian Authority, and because the Palestinian public voted the terror group into power, Washington has seen fit to place it on somewhat different footing than fellow jihadists in Iraq and Syria.
The push into the Golan by the Nusra Front, as al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria is known, comes just two weeks after Israel ended a 50-day war against Hamas on its southern border with the Gaza Strip, giving the conflict-weary nation another cause for concern.
Israelis in the Golan — a long-disputed territory that marks the frontier between the two countries — have grown accustomed to hearing the sound of distant battles between rival forces in Syria’s civil war.
But last week’s seizure of the strategic Quneitra border crossing by a mix of rebels — including the Nusra Front, fighters of the Western-backed Free Syrian Army and others — has created an unprecedented situation that has brought the extremists to within just a few meters (yards) of Israeli positions.
“They’ll come at us in the end, I have no doubt,” said Yehiel Gadis, 56, peering through a small pair of binoculars at an Israeli lookout point across from Syria’s Quneitra crossing.
Israeli defense officials estimate that a few thousand Syrian rebels are now positioned along the border in the Golan, with a few hundred in the Quneitra area, including the Nusra fighters.
“The signing and donation of radiation detection equipment reflect the common conviction of the U.S. and Iraqi governments that nuclear smuggling and nuclear and radiological terrorism are critical and ongoing global threats that require a coordinated, global response,” the State Department said in a statement. “Iraq’s central location and the challenging security environment it faces reinforce the urgency with which these problems must be addressed.”