Families Sue Jordan Over 2016 Deaths Of 3 U.S. Green Berets

Families Sue Jordan Over 2016 Deaths Of 3 U.S. Green Berets

The New York Times · by Thomas Gibbons-Neff · November 16, 2018

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A funeral service for Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe, who was killed in Jordan, at Arlington National Cemetery in 2016.CreditSusan Walsh/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The families of three Army Special Forces soldiers who were fatally shot by a Jordanian base guard in 2016 said on Friday that they had sued the kingdom over false accusations that the Green Berets provoked the killings — accounts disputed by a video of the attack.

The three soldiers — Staff Sgts. Matthew C. Lewellen, Kevin J. McEnroe and James F. Moriarty — were stationed in Jordan as part of a C.I.A.-run program to train Syrian rebels. They were shot at close range by First Sgt. Maarik al-Tawayha, a guard in the Jordanian Air Force, when their convoy was stopped at the gate of the King Faisal air base after a training mission on Nov. 4, 2016.

The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Washington, seeks unspecified monetary damages from the Jordanian government.

“For life to work, we have to be willing to hold the powerful accountable,” James Moriarty, the father of Sergeant Moriarty, said at an emotional news conference on Friday. He also urged the United States to re-examine its longstanding alliance with Jordan.

Sergeant Tawayha was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison in July 2017. During the trial, he offered no explanation for the attack, and he said after a hearing that “I was doing my job.”

On Friday, Mr. Moriarty and the fathers of Sergeants Lewellen and McEnroe said that the Jordanian government had made false leaks to the news media asserting that the Green Berets had been drinking before they returned to the base, and had accidentally fired one of their pistols at the gate.

A six-minute video of the shootings, taken from a security camera and released after Sergeant Tawayha’s sentencing, appears to show a different sequence of events at the gate. In it, Sergeant Moriarty is seen trying to defuse the situation by raising his hands after Sergeants McEnroe and Lewellen were shot.

The lawsuit said the Kingdom of Jordan had “aided and abetted this terrorist act,” and it accused Sergeant Tawayha of having “hunted down and brutally murdered their loved ones.” It said the kingdom had initially defended Sergeant Tawayha by asserting that he had acted “within internationally accepted rules of engagement.”

Neither the F.B.I. nor Jordanian officials have linked Sergeant Tawayha to any extremist groups.

In a statement, the Jordanian Embassy in Washington did not directly comment on the lawsuit but said that “Jordan successfully prosecuted the perpetrator, and he is now serving a life sentence.”

“Jordan deeply regrets the tragedy, and has done its best to achieve justice,” the statement said.A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A10 of the New York edition with the headline: U.S. Families Sue Jordan Over Deaths of 3 Soldiers

AdvertisementThe New York Times · by Thomas Gibbons-Neff · November 16, 2018

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