Jordan soldier jailed for life for killing United States trainers

Frederick Owens
July 17, 2017

A Jordanian military court convicted a Jordanian soldier of killing Lewellen and two other USA military trainers at a Jordanian air base a year ago.

One was killed at the base and two others died later in hospital.

"I have all the respect for the king, but I was doing my job", Tuwayha said as he was led out of the courtroom.

USA embassy staff and relatives of the victims were present at Monday's hearing, which took place under heavy security.

In November 2015, a Jordanian police captain opened fire at a police training centre near the capital Amman, killing two Americans, a South African and two Jordanians. Officials then withdrew the claims under pressure from Washington, which maintained that terrorism could be an issue.

Some of the relatives criticized Jordan's handling of the case and said the defendant should have received the death penalty.

Jordan is a member of the USA -led military coalition fighting ISIS. Amman has insisted, however, that several attacks carried out in the country over the past years had no links to terrorists and that the attackers were lone wolves with personal problems.

Tawaiha, who was in a guard post at the gate, told the court he had opened fire on the cars carrying the American trainers because he suspected an attack on the base.

The defendant, al-Tuwayha, as well as some other gate guards on duty that night, testified that they heard what might have been a gun shot coming from the direction of the U.S. convey.

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Jordan and the US are close allies, and the incident added strain to the relationship.

Moriarty's actions distracted their attacker, allowing a fourth Green Beret to come around the other side of a cement barrier and fire at the guard until al-Tawayha "fell to the ground and was no longer a threat".

Al-Tuwayha has said he had "no intention of killing anyone" and felt no resentment towards Americans.

According to the surveillance video described by the relatives, Lewellen and McEnroe were the first to be hit by gunfire. They yelled that they were friendly forces, the relatives said. He was seriously wounded in the exchange.

Family members of the killed service members, who were in Jordan for the trial, told the AP that they had been shown surveillance footage of the shooting by us law enforcement officials.

Al-Tawaiha said he had fired at the US troops because he believed that the base was under attack.

The US soldiers' family members were in court to hear the verdict on Monday.

In Jordan, life in prison can mean 20 years, with time off for good behavior.

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