Jordanian Soldier Sentenced to Life in Prison for Killing US Trainers

Jordan, a staunch USA ally, hosts several hundred US contractors in a military cooperation programme which includes the stationing of U.S. F-16 fighter jets.

A Jordanian soldier was sentenced Monday to life in prison after being convicted of killing three US military trainers a year ago, but some said questions lingered about his motive for the shooting at a Jordanian air base. Jordan’s military later withdrew the claim and supported charges against Tuwayha. Ma’arik Al-Tawayha for killing the three service members.

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

US Embassy representatives who were present during the trial and judicial proceedings said they appreciated “the expedience and seriousness of the court proceedings” following the guilty verdict on Monday. “We are reassured to see the perpetrator brought to justice”.

“Despite this tragedy, Jordan remains a strategic partner”, Barbee added.

The military court in Amman found 39-year-old Tawaiha guilty of shooting the trainers as they waited to enter the King Faisal base at Al-Jafr in southern Jordan on November 4.

Tawaiha, who has been in custody since November, said that he opened fire on cars carrying the USA trainers after hearing gunshots and suspecting an attack on the base.

Jordanian authorities initially claimed the USA nationals had been killed when their vehicle failed to stop.

In 2015, the United States said it would increase overall U.S. assistance to Jordan, which is hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from the brutal war in Syria, from $660 million to $1 billion annually for the period to 2017.

The three victims were Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Lewellen, 27, of Lawrence, Kansas Staff; Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe, 30, of Tucson, Arizona; and Staff Sgt. James F. Moriarty, 27, of Kerrville, Texas.

A Jordanian soldier was also wounded in the shooting. Other guards said they held their fire because they couldn’t determine the source of the sound.

Jordan is a key USA ally in the region. Three U.S. Special Forces soldiers died in the shooting and Jordanian authorities, joined by the FBI, launched an investigation.