It was an ever-present fear, a vague and unidentified feeling that something could and would happen. Why not? Terrorism was running rogue through the region, especially with the war on Iraq and the whole mess it created, so it seemed like just a matter of time before it knocked on our front door, and the theory didn’t take much time to prove valid. In fact, it was more of an anticipation rather than an irrational fear. I remember that whenever I heard about a fire or any other unfortunate accident I would have those doubts and questions as to whether it was a terrorist attack. Each time it would turn out to be nothing of that nature, but the anticipation would not go away, until that one tragic day.
I remember standing in front of the TV, hearing about the explosion in one hotel, still leaving room for the possibility of being just an accident, but then as the news came in that there were 3 explosions in 3 different hotels, I knew there was more to it. Yet, what I didn’t know was that this would go down history as one of the worst days in the history of the country.
For the next few days everything seemed black. I remember a TV presenter who was dressed in black with no make-up on and a big frown on her face. It turned out she lost a cousin in the attacks, a cousin whose only crime was going to attend her friend’s wedding, and she winded up dead. She looked away from the camera and bit her lip in an effort to fight back tears. In the coming years I would learn about other people who lost mothers, fathers and other family members in the heinous attacks, and each time that would open up and old wound and pose the question: How could any human being be capable of something like this?
It didn’t take the national security forces long to catch the criminals and bring them to justice. Jordanians, for once, seemed to overlook all their differences and took the streets side by side to show unity, solidarity and support to those who had lost family and loved ones in that horrendous act of aggression, as if to say: Your loss is our loss, we are one.
One strange thing is that ll that fear and anticipation vanished as of that one tragic event. Somehow, I saw a newfound hope and confidence that, God willing, we will never witness anything like this again. There was this reassuring feeling that despite everything and despite all our differences, Jordanians in the end are one people who know how to stick together in the face of adversity. There was this renewed confidence that we are a people who base their relationships with the other on respect, compassion and common good. And of course, it was a confirmation that we do have one of the strongest intelligence apparatus in the world, which is something one has to admit regardless of any reservations on their other roles.
May God protect Jordan from any harm, and may this day be only something to remember and learn from -learn how to be one hand at all times- and may it never be repeated.