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U.S., Jordan Work Together To Solve Diplomat's Assassination

  • Julie Stahl Jerusalem Bureau Chief
  • 2002 28 Oct
U.S., Jordan Work Together To Solve Diplomat's Assassination
Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - U.S. and Jordanian officials are working closely together to investigate the assassination of a senior American diplomat in Amman as Americans living in Jordan were warned to be more vigilant, the U.S. Embassy in Jordan said Monday.

Laurence Foley, 60, was shot dead outside his home in Amman by at least one masked gunman at about 7:20 Monday morning. Foley, who worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development Mission in Jordan, was shot several times beside his car as he left for work.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, and the gunman got away. But last month the U.S. government had received uncorroborated information that terrorists linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network intended to kidnap American citizens in Jordan.

The embassy expressed its outrage at what it called an "incomprehensible act" and said that U.S. and Jordanian officials were working closely to investigate "this horrible crime."

Jordanian Information Minister Mohammad Adwan said he did not know if the incident was a terror attack, but regardless it was "an aggression on Jordan and its national security" that would not be tolerated.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher and Planning Minister Bassem Awad Allah paid a condolence call to the U.S. Embassy, according to the Jordanian news agency Petra.

"The Jordanian government is going to deal seriously with this horrible crime," Petra quoted Muasher as saying.

Jordanians expressed their shock at the murder, flooding the U.S. Embassy with condolence calls and emails, said Embassy press attache Justin Siberell

"Jordanians have told us, 'This isn't like Jordan'," Siberell said by telephone from Amman. "They're as sad as we are."

A Man Who Gave His Life To Serve

Foley, who was described by the Embassy as "a warm and loving man," began a life of service as a Peace Corps volunteer in India in 1965.

He later served as a probation officer and counselor before returning to the Peace Corps in the 1980s where he served in Bolivia, Peru and Zimbabwe.

Foley then became involved with the USAID program, which delivers U.S. foreign assistance with the aim of furthering American foreign policy interests by expanding democracy and free markets, and it helps to improve the lives of the citizens of the developing world.

"He was a man who dedicated his life to service and helping others," Siberell said.

Foley is survived by his wife - who found him outside their home - three grown children and several grandchildren.

Vigilance Recommended

The U.S. Embassy in Jordan recommended that U.S. citizens living in the country "remain vigilant in view of threats to American interests" as articulated in a previous warning two weeks ago, a statement from the Embassy in Jordan said.

That advisory referred to a recent audiotape attributed to Osama bin Laden and warned that terrorists may target civilians.

"The U.S. government continues to receive credible indications that extremist groups and individuals are planning additional terrorist actions against U.S. interests," the advisory said.

It noted that because security had been heightened in the U.S., terrorists might seek to attack U.S. interests overseas and would not differentiate between official and civilian targets.

Two years ago, Jordanian officials uncovered a plot by 28 militants linked to al Qaeda to attack American and Christian tourists during the millennium New Year's holiday.

There are about 9,000 American citizens living in Jordan, most of them are dual nationals, an embassy spokesman said. There are more than 100 Americans working in the embassy, he said.

Security, already tight, was beefed up at the both the U.S. Embassy in Amman and at other western embassies.

Jordan, which sided with Iraq during the first Gulf War, is one of Washington's staunchest allies in the region.

The tiny kingdom became the second Arab nation to sign a full peace agreement with Israel in 1994, following the Egyptian treaty of 1979.

Nevertheless, there is a great deal of animosity and incitement against America and Israel in Jordan right now because of the expected American strike against Iraq and the perceived U.S. bias toward Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

U.S. troops are currently taking part in multi-lateral military exercises in Jordan with Jordanian and other unspecified Arab countries.

Dubbed "Early Victor," the exercises are part of routine war games scheduled in advance. U.S. and Jordanian officials have insisted that the exercises have nothing to do with a possible U.S. attack on Iraq.

Two Israeli diplomats have been shot and wounded in Amman during the last two years, prompting the Foreign Ministry to recall the families of diplomats. An Israeli businessman was murdered in the same neighborhood as Foley during the past year.

But this is the first assassination of a Western diplomat.

"It's a terrible thing that makes everybody realize the need to take security seriously," said one Western diplomat based elsewhere in the Middle East.

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