Jordanian Sentenced to Life in Prison for Killing 3 U.S. Soldiers

The victims — Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Lewellen, 27, of Kirksville, Mo.; Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe, 30, of Tucson; and Staff Sgt. James F. Moriarty, 27, of Kerrville, Tex. — were killed shortly before noon on Nov. 4.

They were part of a four-vehicle convoy returning to the King Faisal air base outside the southern town of Al Jafr, after conducting weapons training at a nearby range, according to a United States military investigation that was completed March 7.

As the soldiers waited outside a gate to the base, Sergeant Tawayha opened fire with his M-16 rifle, killing Sergeant McEnroe and mortally wounding Sergeant Lewellen, who were both in the second vehicle of the convoy.

Sergeant Moriarty and another soldier got out of other vehicles and sought cover, according to the investigation. They tried to make clear that they were not a threat, but when the shooting continued, they returned fire. Sergeant Moriarty was fatally injured after he and Sergeant Tawayha exchanged fire. The fourth soldier, who survived, shot and seriously wounded Sergeant Tawayha.

The investigation concluded that the three soldiers “were properly trained, equipped and armed.” It found that all three had died honorably, in service to their country. It said that all three had been following “established procedures for entering the gate.”

The investigation found “no evidence that substantiates post-incident allegations and speculation that alcohol was involved,” and no evidence that “the Americans were the first ones to fire their weapons.”

Video footage of the firefight, which was shown to the bereaved relatives but has not been released to the public, emerged. Relatives said the video showed that the gunfight lasted about six minutes and that Sergeant Tawayha had reloaded and opened fire, even though the Americans waved their hands and yelled: “We’re Americans! We’re friendly.”

“We respect the Jordanian legal process,”…

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