Newly-released footage of a Jordanian military guard killing three U.S. Special Forces soldiers at the gate of a base contradicts statements from Jordanian officials who initially said the Green Berets failed to follow protocol, leading to the guard’s decision to open fire. Watch the footage above, but be forewarned that it contains graphic content.
The security video—released Monday by the Jordanian military—of the Nov. 4 shooting at King Faisal Air Base in southern Jordan shows a four-vehicle convoy containing Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Lewellen, 27, Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe, 30, and Staff Sgt. James F. Moriarty, 27, entering through the gate, when Jordanian 1st Sgt. Marik al-Tuwayha suddenly starts shooting at around the 52 second mark, killing Lewellyn and McEnroe in the first two trucks off screen.
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“Glass was flying, I saw the guys slumped over,” the staff sergeant who survived the attack told the New York Times on condition of anonymity. “I waited a few seconds, hoping the guys in front could push through, but nothing happened.”
The video shows the unidentified staff sergeant lean out of his truck and open fire at the guard with a 9mm pistol. He and Moriarty in the vehicle behind him then get out of their vehicles, take cover behind barriers and wave their hands in surrender, but al-Tuwayha keeps firing.
“We kept yelling in English and Arabic, saying we were friends. And he kept shooting,” the staff sergeant said. “Eventually, we realized it wasn’t an accident.”
Moriarty and the staff sergeant kept waving their hands and yelling in both Arabic and English that they were Americans, to no avail.
“We were trying to wave and we’re getting shot at,” the staff sergeant said. “I gave up with trying to figure stuff out and told him we should just try to kill this guy.”
At four minutes and 10 seconds into the video, the two can be seen sprinting to some barriers further from the gate.
“We thought it would buy us some time,” the staff sergeant said. “Maybe help would come.”
al-Tuwayha appears onscreen at four minutes and 20 seconds into the video. He approaches the first truck, fires at the Green Berets, then heads to the second. He then waits a bit before rushing the soldiers at the 5:24 mark.
Both men opened fire on al-Tuwayha with their pistols, but the Jordanian manages to shoot and kill Staff Sgt. Moriarty. The unidentified American staff sergeant quickly runs around a barrier and shoots al-Tuwayha, wounding him.
Jordanian officials initially said al-Tuwayha fired at the soldiers because they didn’t stop at the gate. But an investigation and review of the video showed no protocols were violated.
Eventually, al-Tuwayha was charged with murder. He pled not guilty, claiming he thought he heard a gunshot and believed the base was under attack. He was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
Jordanian authorities released the footage of the shooting after widespread protests from al-Tuwayha’s powerful tribe, the Howeitat, in the wake of the verdict. James R. Moriarty, a lawyer and Staff Sgt. Moriarty’s father, said the FBI told him the footage was released to calm the protestors and prevent al-Tuwayha from being turned into a martyr.