General Intelligence Department
Internal security, intelligence, and counterintelligence
matters were the concern of the police, the armed forces, and the
GID, a civilian organization with principal responsibility for
dealing with perceived domestic and foreign threats to security.
The GID customarily was headed by a high-ranking army officer
answerable directly to the prime minister and concurrently a close
personal adviser of Hussein.
The GID was a large organization, although its personnel
strength was not a matter of public knowledge. Its members were
almost invariably persons of proven loyalty to the monarchy and of
East Bank origin. It was generally regarded as an effective
internal security agency, alert to any evidence of activity that
might have subversive implications. Although Jordan had been the
target of clandestine operations by other countries, the GID was
not known to have a covert branch that engaged in clandestine
activity against its Arab neighbors or Israel. The GID was
particularly occupied with rooting out Palestinian militant groups
and illegal or underground political organizations. It scrutinized
activities in the mosques and among student groups. A GID office
was located in each refugee camp. The GID's methods and oppressive
tactics frequently have been the subject of criticism among
Jordanians, although some of its measures, such as checkpoints to
monitor domestic travelers, were less obtrusive during the 1980s
than they had been in the tense period following the 1970-71
conflict with the PLO.
The widely employed system of identity documents facilitated
GID control over the population. A passport was needed both for
travel and to obtain employment. Passports could only be obtained
by producing other identity documents issued by the Ministry of
Interior and had to be authorized by the GID. In addition, a
certificate of good conduct from the GID was required for public
sector jobs, for many private sector jobs, and for study abroad. A
young person studying in a communist country might, on returning
for a visit to Jordan, find his or her passport confiscated if the
GID harbored suspicions concerning the student's conduct abroad.
Furthermore, GID approval was required for public gatherings or
activities sponsored by private organizations.
The GID had authority under martial law to detain persons
without trial for indeterminate periods, often lasting from several
weeks to many months. Such security detainees normally were held
incommunicado for interrogation at GID headquarters in Amman.
According to the 1988 annual report of the human rights
organization Amnesty International, various forms of torture or ill
treatment were believed to have been inflicted at GID headquarters
on detainees or arrested persons later transferred to ordinary
prisons for trial by martial law courts.
Data as of December 1989