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Jordan Releases Footage Of Attack That Killed 3 Green Berets Last Year
Jordan’s military has released security camera footage of an attack by a Jordanian soldier that killed three U.S. Army Green Berets at an air base in the kingdom last year, straining relations between the U.S. and one of its key allies in the Middle East.
The incident occurred on Nov. 4, 2016, when a U.S. military convoy came under fire as it entered the al-Jafr base in southern Jordan. Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Lewellen, 27, Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe, and Staff Sgt. James F. Moriarty were killed in the ensuing gun battle. All three were members of the Fort Campbell, Kentucky-based 5th Special Force Group and deployed to Jordan on a training mission.
The six-minute-long video appears to confirm what the fathers of the three victims have been saying since U.S. law enforcement showed them the previously undisclosed footage earlier this year: Their sons were murdered in cold blood.
A Jordanian military court arrived at a similar conclusion last week when it sentenced the gunman, 1st Sgt. Marik al-Tuwayha, to life in prison with hard labor.
The guilty verdict was handed down despite al-Tuwayha’s insistence that he opened fire out of fear that the air base was under attack — a version of events that both the Jordanian media and government had clung to in the wake of the shooting.
“I have all the respect for the king, but I was doing my job,” al-Tuwayha said as he was being led out of the courtroom on July 17. As CBS News notes, in Jordan, life in prison can mean 20 years, with time off for good behavior. Al-Tuwayha’s attorney told CBS that he plans to file an appeal.
Al-Tuwayha, who was guarding the entrance of the base when the attack occurred, only stopped shooting at the Green Berets after he was seriously wounded in the exchange. In the video, he appears armed with an assault rifle while two Americans return fire with pistols after scrambling for cover behind low concrete barriers.
The security footage was posted by Hala Akhbar, a news site linked to the Jordanian military. Al-Tuwayha “had acted against orders and military instructions and had not acted in self-defense.”
Jordan initially said that the Americans had triggered the attack by disobeying rules for entering the base, but ultimately discarded that claim amid mounting evidence that the shooting was unprovoked.
In April, McEnroe’s father, Brian McEnroe, implored President Donald Trump to stop giving Jordan over a billion dollars in aid each year. “We ask that you reconsider our relationship to an ally that murders our soldiers then lies about it,” McEnroe wrote in a letter to the president that was posted to Facebook.
By that point, Brian McEnroe had already seen the footage, which appears to show the four-vehicle U.S. convoy coming under fire as soon as it passes through a gate at the entrance of the base. A Jordanian soldier can be seen running away as rounds begin to impact around the trucks.
According to relatives of the victims, Lewellen and McEnroe were in the first vehicle and were waiting to enter a second gate when al-Tuwayha began shooting from within a guard shack. McEnroe was reportedly killed instantly while Lewellen was mortally wounded.
“There was no warning for my son, Sgt. First Class Lewellen or Staff Sgt. McEnroe,” Lewellen’s father, Charlies Lewellen, told Stars and Stripes in March. “They were murdered by an ally officer of the Jordanian Army.”
But only the last two vehicles in the convoy, its occupants, and al-Tuwayha appear in the released footage as the attack is unfolding.
In that portion of the video, two U.S. soldiers — one of them Moriarty and the other an unidentified Green Beret — exit the trucks and dive behind a set of nearby barricades. The men wave their hands but the gunman continues to advance. Relatives say the victims yelled that they were friendly forces, according to the Associated Press.
The video concludes with Moriarty slumping over after being shot, while the fourth Green Beret, who was wounded but survived, uses his pistol to neutralize al-Tuwayha at close range.
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