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Few Answers for the Family of a U.S. Soldier Slain in Jordan

JERUSALEM — On Thursday, Staff Sgt. Jimmy Moriarty, an American Special Forces soldier on a training mission in Jordan, called his sister to check in. Everything was “hunky-dory,” as his father put it. In just two weeks, he would be home.

The next day, Sergeant Moriarty died in a hail of gunfire along with two other American military trainers, evidently killed by a member of the same Jordanian armed forces that the United States had sent the soldiers to help.

In an era of continuing danger to American forces overseas, the shooting at the King Faisal air base in southern Jordan still seemed shocking. Jordan, which has worked closely with American military and intelligence services for many years, had largely escaped the sort of violence that has plagued so many of its neighbors.

“We thought Jordan was safe,” James R. Moriarty, the slain sergeant’s father and a trial lawyer from Houston, said by telephone on Saturday.

The killings of the three American soldiers remained publicly unexplained on Saturday. Was it some sort of misunderstanding, as the Jordanian military has asserted? Or was it an intentional attack on Americans by a supposedly friendly soldier?

The United States and Jordan have begun a joint investigation, and a Jordanian official said the two sides were studying video recordings. But Sergeant Moriarty’s family has expressed doubt about the only account of the shootings given so far. Jordanian officials initially said the three Americans were killed when their vehicle failed to stop as it approached the gate of the base.

“The Jordanian explanation has to be” nonsense, said Mr. Moriarty, a Marine veteran of the Vietnam War. “It’s just not possible. These guys had years in Jordan, were highly motivated, bright. It has all the indices of being a deliberate attack.”

An American Army casualty officer told the family on Saturday that the shooting had been a “friendly-on-friendly” engagement. The soldiers had been at a gun range, and were traveling back to the base when someone opened fire, the officer said.

Mr. Moriarty said he wanted answers. “I get so tired of people in the government lying about what happened, and if the Jordanians on that base killed my son, I want to know it and I want the American public to know it,” he said.

He choked up as he talked about his son. “I guess all parents think this, but my son was truly an extraordinary human being,” he said.

The Pentagon offered no additional information on Saturday about the attack, and had not released the names of the slain soldiers as of the afternoon. A year ago, a Jordanian police captain shot and killed two American contractors and three others at a training center in Amman, the capital.

Sergeant Moriarty, 27, grew up in Texas and studied economics at the University of Texas before joining the Army. As part of the 5th Special Forces Group out of Fort Campbell, Ky., he was more than three months into his third tour in Jordan.

He seemed upbeat as he talked with his sister, Melissa, on Thursday. He sent her a photograph of himself wearing a hat with a slogan playing off the presidential campaign: “Make UT Football Great Again.” The two had planned to go to Bogotá, Colombia, for Thanksgiving after he returned from Jordan.

Ms. Moriarty wrote on Facebook that the family was “devastated,” and asked why the United States was still fighting in so many places. “He was a proud soldier and loved his job,” she wrote. “But he was sent to fight a war that we shouldn’t be fighting.”

“How much is enough?” she asked. Referring to the next president of the United States, she added, “Future POTUS, we have your first assignment.”

Source: NYT > World

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