KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
Two Americans are dead today after a Jordanian police officer opened fire at a police training center in Jordan. At least two other people were killed, and the shooter died in the attack. Officials say the Americans who were killed were security contractors working with a U.S. State Department program to train Palestinian police. NPR's Alice Fordham is in Amman, Jordan, and joins us now. And Alice, what are you hearing about this attack?
ALICE FORDHAM, BYLINE: Well, as you say, two Americans who were contracted to the State Department were killed. There was also a South African colleague and at least one Jordanian translator. Several of the people were injured, at least one of them seriously. The shooter's been identified here in local media as a man named Anwar Abu Zaid. He's said by Jordanian officials to have been killed in the attack. Although, that's being questioned by local media reports that he may have killed himself. It's also been reported in the Jordanian media that Abu Zaid recently applied to leave the police and work outside the country, but his request to leave was denied.
MCEVERS: And there were also people injured in this attack. And you went to the hospital where some of these injured are being treated. What was it like there?
FORDHAM: Yeah. Several people were injured, some of them quite seriously, I understand. We were in the military hospital, but it was very tense. There were a lot of security officials there. They wouldn't let us speak to any relatives although they would've been happy to talk to us. This does seem to be being treated with kid gloves by Jordanian authorities. It's a sensitive issue. They haven't released a lot of information yet.
MCEVERS: I mean, Jordan is in the middle of everything in the Middle East. You've got Syria and Iraq next door with ISIS gaining ground in both of those places and other extremist groups. Jordan is a close ally to the West, but it has its own history with extremism. Do people think that's part of what happened today?
FORDHAM: The response seems mixed, you know? I went out and about. I spoke to some young professional guys out having coffee today, and they were really notably shaken up. They said they didn't know exactly what had caused the attack. But their immediate association was with a huge terrorist bombing of three hotels in Amman that happened 10 years ago today, and that was claimed at the time by Iraq's branch of al-Qaida. It killed 60 people, and it's a big scar on Jordanian memory.
And these guys that I was talking to said, you know, this is not something that usually happens here. As you say, Jordan has Iraq on one side and Syria on the other, but it's managed to remain a largely orderly and peaceful place. And they were terrified that this might start. They said Jordanians are peaceful people, but there are many people here who don't like what the United States has done in the Middle East. And they said, you know, maybe it could be an extremist Islamist reacting to the fact that, you know, for a long time, Jordan has been seen as a safe place for the United States and other countries to have regional hubs to do military training and to have close relations.
MCEVERS: I mean, is there any evidence so far that this was a homegrown militant who led this attack?
FORDHAM: No, there isn't, and I think it's important not to jump to any conclusions. I spoke to an expert here on extremism named Marwan Shehadeh, and he said he thought this could easily be the case that this was a personal dispute or a case of mental illness. He said the police are absolutely vigilant about keeping any sort of extremism out of the forces. Anyone who's suspected of showing signs of extreme religiosity is quickly kicked out. And Shehadeh also said that although there's also been, you know, like, a certain amount of cheering among extremist online communities today, there's been no claim of responsibility, nothing to suggest that this was organized by ISIS or by any other extremist groups.
MCEVERS: That NPR's Alice Fordham in Amman, Jordan. Thank you so much.
FORDHAM: You're welcome.
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