Weinstein visited the country with his wife Georgina Chapman as part of a “storytelling project” with the UN, skipping the Cannes premiere of one of his films.
“I found myself walking down the other Champs-Élysées, nicknamed by aid workers, in the middle of the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.
“It was incredible to see an improvised pizza-delivery place, a wedding-dress-rental shop, and, my personal favorite, a baklava bakery,” he wrote in the Daily Mail at the time.
“I came to Zaatari and Jordan to accompany the writer Neil Gaiman and my wife, Georgina Chapman, who, together, had been invited by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to create a storytelling project about the plight of the Syrian refugees who had flooded into Jordan.”
According to Jordanian government officials, ISIS controlled several such settlements. They had since blocked access to some because of security concerns over hidden ISIS sleeper cells.
Armed Islamic State extremists had expanded their influence in the sprawling camps for displaced Syrians on Jordan’s border, posing a growing threat to the kingdom, a senior Jordanian military commander said earlier.
Brig. Gen. Sami Kafawin, chief of Jordan’s border forces, spoke to The Associated Press of the threat during a visit.
Aid officials maintain that “tribal leaders” help organise the food distribution, despite concerns by aid agencies that this will lead to radicalisation, with unfair allotments and black marketeering, Business Insider reported.
Armed militants in the region were already “trying to control it and create cells inside the [Rukban] camp,” said Kafawin, the border commander. “We are sure they have whole weapons systems.”
“We understand that more than 90 percent (of camp residents) are asylum seekers, but the others are extremists or Daesh people,” he said.
Jordan is the third-largest contributor of fighters to ISIS after Tunisia and Saudi Arabia, and last year the Islamic State still appeared to be gaining in popularity.
In 2016, a Jordanian army captain from a prominent family defected to ISIS, while the sons of two parliamentarians died after joining extremist groups in Syria.
Also, “moderate” rebels were given help from Jordan’s intelligence services for specific times to cross its border into Syria, The New York Times reported in 2014. “When the rebels need weapons, they make their request at an ‘operations room’ in Amman staffed by agents from Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United States.”
During the invasion of Syria, this desert nation provided a staging ground for rebels and their foreign backers on Syria’s southern front. In the joint Arab-American operations room in Amman, the capital, for example, rebels confirmed that they had collected salaries.
But as PJMedia reported at the time, “the US-backed and armed Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF) had struck a peace deal with ISIS”.
“The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the ceasefire deal was agreed between ISIS and moderate and Islamist rebels in Hajar al-Aswad, south of the capital” AFP noted in 2014. McClatchy media had reported that SRF and other “vetted moderate rebel” groups had received TOW missiles from the US and had posted videos of their use.