The father of one of three U.S. Army Green Berets killed in cold blood by a Jordanian soldier said he does not believe the shooter acted alone, calling the murders an “assassination” that may have been ordered by someone else.
He acknowledged his suspicions might never be proven, but he said he thinks Jordan is engaged in a cover-up.
“I don’t trust the Jordanians,” said Brian McEnroe, whose son Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe was killed when a Jordanian security guard shot him at point-blank range on Nov. 4, 2016, as McEnroe and three other U.S. Special Forces soldiers were entering King Faisal Air Base in Jordan, a longtime Arab ally of the United States.
“I don’t believe they’re being forthcoming about everything that happened,” McEnroe said in an extensive interview with Fox News Wednesday. “Why did they have to lie and place blame and slander the honor of U.S. soldiers?”
“I honestly believe that he [the shooter] was not operating on his own,” said McEnroe. “I believe that Jordan is covering something up and I will always believe that. Whatever that is, we may never know.”
McEnroe spoke two days after shocking surveillance video was released by the Jordanian military showing 39-year-old First Sgt. Ma’arik al-Tuwayha, a member of the Jordanian Air Force, firing rounds of ammunition at the four-vehicle U.S. convoy, even as the American soldiers waved their arms in surrender during the six-minute assault.
McEnroe, however, noted U.S. officials were unable to find a link between the gunman and any terrorist groups.
Kevin McEnroe, 30, of Tucson, died instantly from a bullet to the head, his father said. Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Lewellen, 27, of Kirksville, Mo., and James F. Moriarty, 27, of Kerrville, Tex., were also killed, while a fourth U.S. soldier survived the attack.
Jordan initially said al-Tuwayha fired at the U.S. soldiers because they failed to stop at the gate, claiming certain entry protocols were not followed. The Jordanian military later said the Americans accidentally fired a weapon, prompting the Jordanian guard to believe the base was under attack. The surveillance video as well as the investigation proved both narratives to be false.
Jordan eventually changed its position and charged al-Tuwayha with premeditated murder. The guard pleaded not guilty and insisted he was acting in accordance with open-fire regulations. He said during his testimony he heard a pistol shot and feared the base was being attacked.
The Jordanian Embassy did not immediately respond to a Fox News request for comment.
McEnroe and the other U.S. soldiers were working for the Central Intelligence Agency as part of a covert program training Syrian rebels. The elder McEnroe described in great detail a text message exchange with his son on Nov. 3, the day before he was killed.
“I was driving in the car and sent him a quick message and asked if everything was OK,” McEnroe said.
“He responded immediately and said, ‘Yeah I’m fine. I’m just very busy here’ and he said, “Tell mom and the boys I’ll reach out to them around Thanksgiving and that I’m OK.’”
When the elder McEnroe – accustomed to receiving limited information from his son while overseas -- asked if he was in a safe place, he replied, “Oh yeah, it’s no big deal. I’m in Jordan.’”
In the days following the shooting, McEnroe said military officials told him and other families not to believe Jordanian news reports claiming the U.S. soldiers failed to follow protocols.
“’Our boys did nothing wrong,’” McEnroe quoted the officials as saying.
McEnroe – who attended parts of al-Tuwayha’s trial in Jordan -- also condemned King Abdullah for allowing his military to push a false narrative that faulted the American soldiers and “dishonored” their names.
“This was an assassination – it wasn’t a gunfight,” said McEnroe. “He [al-Tuwayha] was no more than 5 or 6 feet away from my son when he shot him with an automatic weapon at point-blank range. Mercifully, my son never knew what was happening. He died instantly.”
“The assertion that he [al-Tuwayha] thought they were under attack was absurd,” he said. “All the Jordanians at the gate area knew who was coming back. There was only one gate at that air base… the same crew that was there when the shooting happened was the same crew there at 8 a.m. when our guys left the base.”
The surveillance video was released on Monday in an effort to calm unrest among al-Tuwayha’s supporters, who claim he’s being unjustly punished by Jordan to appease the United States.
Al-Tuwayha was sentenced on July 17 to life in prison -- a sentence that, in Jordan, can mean 20 years, with time off for good behavior. At his trial, al-Tuwayha said he did not resent the Americans at the base and insisted he opened fire because he feared the base was coming under attack, the Associated Press reported.
As he was led out of the courtroom, al-Tuwayha said: "I have all the respect for the king, but I was doing my job," according to the AP.
The Pentagon, meanwhile, called Jordan a “strategic partner” on Wednesday and declined to comment on whether any changes were made to force protection measures in the wake of the deadly shooting.
“We are reassured to see the perpetrator brought to justice,” Defense Department spokesman Adam Stump said in a statement.
“We appreciate the access provided to us and to the families of the victims, as well as the expedience and seriousness of the court proceedings, consistent with Jordanian law,” Stump said. “Despite this tragedy, Jordan remains a strategic partner."
The deadly shooting at the King Faisal Air Base is not the first time U.S. soldiers have come under attack by a soldier of an allied force. Similar incidents have occurred in Afghanistan, including a June 11 shooting in which an Afghan soldier opened fire at a base in eastern Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, killing three U.S. soldiers and wounding a fourth.
Brian McEnroe described the senseless killing of his son – the eldest of three boys – as a “stab in the heart” of the family.
“He was a hero to his twin brothers,” he said.
“Kevin was a loving person. He had a heart of gold,” McEnroe said. “He would give anybody the shirt off his back.”