Three members of the 5th Special Forces Group who were conducting weapons training for the Jordanian armed forces were killed in November when re-entering a base they had left and entered many times in the past.
The Jordanian government has ruled the deaths “a tragic accident” where a member of their military, M’aarek Abu Tayeh fired from point blank range killing two of the SF soldiers right in front of a guard shack as the troops re-entered the base after conducting range operations in the morning.
A third Green Beret was killed in the ensuing gun battle with Tayeh before a fourth, armed with just a Glock handgun, emptied his pistol at Tayeh who was seriously wounded in the exchange.
Jordanian Ambassador Dina Kawar said in a statement that Tayeh responded to shooting from the Americans.
“Abu Tayeh was tasked with swift response,” Kawar said, and fired toward the source of what he took to be gunshots coming from the Americans, “who in turn fired directly at Abu Tayeh, believing he was targeting them.”
The FBI has analyzed video footage from the incident and deemed that the Americans followed what had been normal procedure when entering and leaving the base. The families of the killed Americans believe that the soldiers were murdered and want answers from the Jordanians.
Earlier this month, Chuck Lewellen and fathers of the other fallen Green Berets spoke at the National Press Club in Washington. They want an apology from Jordan, and they’ve called for a suspension of aid to the country until that happens.
“The government of Jordan lied to the world, immediately claiming that our sons failed to stop at the gate,” James R. Moriarty told the press club. “When the FBI confirmed the video showed that to be a lie, the Jordanians then claimed there had been an accidental discharge by one of the Americans. This was also proven to be a lie.
“The American public is told Jordan is our ally. Jordan has never accepted responsibility nor has a Jordanian official ever explained what truly happened.”
The families want answers and the Jordanians to clear their sons of any wrongdoing, which the video and the FBI investigation played out. However, the Jordanian government is sticking to its story, (the third now) that Tayeh acted appropriately and was responding to a threat from the Americans.
Jordan has been a staunch ally of the US in the region and although terrorism has been ruled out by the host government, and they cited Tayeh’s 14 years of service, for the families, there is the legitimate question in their minds as to what happened and why.
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Photo courtesy DOD