Why are US military forces working for the CIA, instead of the military? How can US soldiers, even special forces soldiers, be taking orders from an intelligence agency? Is the CIA now conducting military operations? This article raises these, and other equally disturbing questions. From Thomas Gibbon-Neff and Joby Warrick at washingtonpost.com:
The three Army Special Forces soldiers killed at a Jordanian military base this month were working for a CIA program to train moderate Syrian fighters when they were shot at a checkpoint under still-unclear circumstances, U.S. officials said.
The Nov. 4 slayings of the three soldiers is believed to be the deadliest single incident involving a CIA team since December 2009, when seven officers and contractors were killed in a suicide bombing in Khost, Afghanistan.
The Fort Campbell, Ky.-based soldiers — all members of the 5th Special Forces Group — were killed by a Jordanian soldier at an entry control point to Prince Faisal Air Base near Jafr, in the southern desert about 150 miles south of the capital, Amman, according to the officials. The shooter also was wounded in what was described by U.S. and Middle Eastern sources as an exchange of gunfire.
The soldiers, identified as Staff Sgt. Matthew Lewellen, Staff Sgt. Kevin McEnroe and Staff Sgt. James Moriarty, were among roughly 2,000 U.S. troops working in Jordan while participating in the U.S.-led campaign fighting the Islamic State. Some of the troops have been assigned to mobile artillery units along the Jordanian border while others assist CIA-led training programs for Syrian opposition fighters.
The CIA declined to comment on the shooting incident or on the soldiers’ possible role in agency programs.
What prompted the week-old shooting remained unclear, as U.S. and Jordanian officials have painted different narratives of the incident.
The FBI is investigating the possibility of a terrorist attack, but it has not discounted the possibility that the deaths could have been the result of a mistake at the gate, said a U.S. defense official who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because an investigation into the incident is ongoing.
But Jordanian investigators say the evidence so far points not to a deliberate attack but to a “chain of unfortunate events,” according to a senior Middle Eastern security official briefed on the results of an internal Jordanian probe.
According to Jordanian accounts, the incident began with the accidental discharge of a weapon inside one of the Americans’ Humvees as a small convoy was preparing to enter the base following a training exercise with Syrian opposition fighters, the Middle Eastern official said. In the ensuing confusion, shots were fired at U.S. personnel, some of whom got out of their vehicle to take cover.
“Security was heightened at the time,” amping up the adrenaline among a guard force trained to respond rapidly to perceived threats, the official said. Investigators have found no evidence suggesting a deliberate targeting of the Americans, he said.
The incident took place five months after six Jordanian border guards were killed in a suicide-car bombing near the Syrian border. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack. Last November, a Jordanian police officer shot and killed two American contractors and three others inside a police training center near Amman.
To continue reading: Army Special Forces soldiers killed in Jordan were working for the CIA