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U.S. Soldier Who Survived Fatal Jordan Shootout Tells His Story

The staff sergeant dodges around a barrier and shoots Sergeant Tawayha, who falls to the ground behind the barricade.

The staff sergeant said he grabbed the bleeding Jordanian’s rifle and threw it away before backing off into the desert with his arms raised.

In the confusion, as Jordanian and American forces edged in to determine what had happened, the staff sergeant’s partner bled to death behind the barrier where he was shot. As the staff sergeant described the gunfight, a stammer in his voice revealed his deep sense of regret that he had been unable to help.

“I didn’t go back to Jimmy,” he said. “I didn’t know the attack was over. I didn’t think I could help him while still in a firefight.”

The video was not shown at Mr. Tawayha’s trial, where he testified that he had thought he was acting within the rules of engagement. But after his conviction spurred protests by his tribe, the Jordanian military and the F.B.I. released the video in hopes it would defuse the unrest, said James R. Moriarty, a Houston lawyer and the father of the slain Sergeant Moriarty.

The release has done little to calm Sergeant Tawayha’s tribe, the Howeitat, which is known in Jordan for its role in the Arab uprising that paved the way for the foundation of the modern kingdom. Many still believe that Sergeant Tawayha was doing his duty and is being punished to please the United States.

“It is not right, but our government is looking for cash and they’ll do anything to get it,” his brother, Abdul-Rahman Abu Tayeh, said in an interview.

Sergeant Tawayha was in the military for more than a decade and often worked with Americans, his brother said, so what he did made no sense.

“We lived for years and years with the Americans, so why would we want a problem with them now?” said Lafi Abu Tayeh, another relative of Sergeant Tawayha’s who helps coordinate the protests. “But since the ruling, they are not welcome here.”

The staff sergeant, who attended parts of the gunman’s trial, said he, too, was perplexed by the man’s motives. Sergeant Tawayha remained consistent in his insistence that he had thought the base was under attack, the staff sergeant said.

“But there is no rational person who chases two attackers from the safety of the guard shack without backup,” he said. “It just still doesn’t make sense.”

Source: NYT > World

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