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Published: Monday, July 17, 2017 @ 4:55 AM
Updated: Monday, July 17, 2017 @ 4:55 AM
AMMAN, Jordan — A Jordanian soldier was sentenced Monday to life in prison after being convicted of killing three U.S. military trainers last year, but some said questions lingered about his motive for the shooting at a Jordanian air base.
Jordan has ruled out terrorism in the November shooting in which the convoy of the U.S. Army Green Berets came under fire at the base entrance.
The defendant has said he felt no animosity toward Americans and opened fire because he believed the base was coming under attack.
However, relatives of the slain U.S. troops have described security camera footage that they say shows him shooting for six minutes, reloading and aiming at the Americans, even as they identify themselves as friendly forces.
After a "not guilty" plea, the Jordanian soldier, 1st Sgt. Marik al-Tuwayha, was tried by a military court in Jordan's capital of Amman for the killings of Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Lewellen, 27, of Kirksville, Missouri; Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe, 30, of Tucson, Arizona; and Staff Sgt. James F. Moriarty, 27, of Kerrville, Texas.
During the monthlong trial, he watched the proceedings silently while standing in a cage in the courtroom.
He did not react Monday when the judge announced the verdict and the maximum possible sentence, life in prison with hard labor. When he was led out of the cage, he said: "I have all the respect for the king, but I was doing my job."
Relatives of two of the U.S. soldiers sat quietly as the judge read the ruling.
Charles Lewellen, 53, whose son was killed, later told The Associated Press that the verdict "won't take the pain away," but that it proved "what we have been saying all along ... that he murdered our sons."
Some of the relatives criticized Jordan's handling of the case and said the defendant should have received the death penalty. Jordan allows the death penalty, but it is usually handed down in terrorism cases or in a murder coupled with another crime.
The Americans were killed Nov. 4, as their convoy waited at the gate to the al-Jafr base in southern Jordan. Jordan initially said the Americans triggered the shooting by disobeying entry rules, a claim that was later withdrawn.
The trial "confirmed that the deceased U.S. service members followed all established procedures when accessing the base the day of the incident, as we have noted before," the U.S. Embassy in Jordan said. "We are reassured to see the perpetrator brought to justice."
Jordan is a member of a U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State group extremists in neighboring Syria and Iraq. Jordan hosts troops, including trainers, from the U.S. and other countries as part of the anti-IS battle.
"We are pleased to see that the perpetrators have been brought to justice," said U.S. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. He said the U.S. respects Jordan's military process and praised Jordan for adhering to its own laws in resolving the case expeditiously.
Davis wouldn't comment on possible motives for the killing.
At the trial, al-Tuwayha and some of the gate guards testified they heard what might have been a pistol shot coming from the direction of the U.S. convoy. Al-Tuwayha said he opened fire because he feared the base was under attack. Other guards said they held their fire because they couldn't determine the source of the sound.
Al-Tuwayha has said he had "no intention of killing anyone" and felt no resentment toward Americans.
According to the surveillance video described by the relatives, Lewellen and McEnroe were the first to be hit by gunfire. Moriarty and another soldier jumped out of their cars to take cover and returned fire from their pistols, according to the descriptions of the video. They yelled that they were friendly forces, the relatives said.
The defendant kept shooting, they said. He was seriously wounded in the exchange.
The video was shown to the family by U.S. law enforcement, but has not been released to the public.
Some of the relatives have questioned why the video was not screened at the trial and why the court did not ask a surviving U.S. soldier to testify, despite what they said was his willingness to do so.
Moriarty's father, Jim, wrote in a letter Monday to the Jordanian Embassy in the U.S. that the "successful prosecution" was a "good first step, but it is only the first step."
In the letter, a copy of which was given to the AP, Moriarty listed several demands to Jordan. These included allowing the defendant to be re-interviewed by the FBI about his motive and releasing the security video to the families. Moriarty, a lawyer, said the video had been entered into evidence at the trial.
Cynthia Lewellen, 53, the mother of Matthew Lewellen, expressed sympathy for all those affected by the shooting, including the family of the defendant.
"In this verdict, nobody comes out happy," she said. "I mean for us as losing our sons and knowing the man that killed him will spend 20 years in prison, but also for his family that because of his actions ... lost a father, a husband, a provider."
In Jordan, life in prison can mean 20 years, with time off for good behavior.
Defense lawyer Subhi al-Mawas said he would appeal Monday's court ruling.
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 9:56 AM
LOCH NESS, Scotland — A scientist from New Zealand may have a way to prove that the Loch Ness Monster is real.
Neil Gemmell is leading a team that will start testing the body of water for genetic material left behind by the animals that live in the ecosystem, the BBC reported.
His team will be at the site in a few weeks, working to collect small pieces of skin and scales from the lake.
While Gemmell himself doesn’t believe in Nessie’s existence, he said there could be creatures that still haven’t been discovered, the BBC reported.
“There’s absolutely no doubt that we will find new stuff. And that’s very exciting,” Gemmell told the BBC.
“While the prospect of looking for evidence of the Loch Ness monster is the hook to this project, there is an extraordinary amount of new knowledge that we will gain from the work about organisms that inhabit Loch Ness - the UK’s largest freshwater body,” Gemmell explained.
The technique is called eDNA and has been used for tracking marine life, Reuters reported.
The myth of Nessie dates back to the 6th century when Irish monk St. Columba banished a “water beast” to the River Ness, Reuters reported. In 1934, the famous photo dubbed the “surgeon’s photo” was taken. The photo was found to be a hoax six decades later when it was discovered that the creature was, in fact, a toy submarine with a sea monster model attacked.
In 2003, the BBC financed a research project that mapped the entire lake using 600 sonar beams, Reuters reported.
Published: Thursday, February 15, 2018 @ 11:30 AM
ALBERTA, Canada — A couple in Canada can now start rebuilding their lives after they were big winners in the Atlantic Lottery.
Bill Pendergast and his wife accepted a $1 million check this month, nearly two years after their home and all their belongings were destroyed in a wildfire.
The May 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire destroyed their home, along with about 10 percent of the Alberta, Canada, town, the BBC reported.
Pendergast was recently visiting his sick father in Newfoundland, who ask him to get a soda at a store, the BBC reported. He bought a ticket at the local gas station on a whim. The next morning, he found out he was a new millionaire, CNN reported. He then called his wife, who hopped on a plane to Newfoundland to help her husband cash in on his newfound money, CNN reported.
The money, the couple said, will be used mostly to help put the pieces back together, including finishing construction on their new home, CBC reported.
“Our rebuild should be finished in the next two to four months, so this is going to go a long way towards that,” Pendergast told CBC.
The family, including the couple’s five sons, is also going to take a family vacation, CBC reported.
But there is one thing the lucky winner always wanted that will now become a reality.
“I have always wanted a Mustang, and I will finally have one, I’m 100% sure of that,” Pendergast told CNN.
Published: Friday, May 18, 2018 @ 11:12 PM
Updated: Saturday, May 19, 2018 @ 4:08 PM
HAVANA, Cuba — A Boeing 737 crashed Friday shortly after takeoff from Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, Cuba.
Adel Yzquierdo Rodriguez, Cuba’s transportation minister, told The Associated Press Saturday that 110 people were killed in the crash. Three women survived the crash but are in critical condition.
Rodriguez said 113 people were on board, including 102 Cubans, three tourists, two foreign residents and six crew members who were from Mexico.
The BBC reported Saturday that one of the plane’s black boxes has been found in good condition.
The domestic flight was headed to Holguin and crashed at approximately 12:30 p.m. local time, according to state TV reports.
The plane was rented by Cubana Airlines, WPLG reports.
Friday's crash was Cuba’s third major fatal aviation accident since 2010, the AP reported.
One of black boxes from Boeing 737 that crashed in Havana on Friday found "in good condition", Cuban officials say. https://t.co/OHYW3Dsy6l— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) May 19, 2018
Published: Sunday, May 13, 2018 @ 3:15 PM
Updated: Sunday, May 13, 2018 @ 3:15 PM
PARIS — Update 3:15 p.m EDT Sunday: A jihadist monitoring group says a video released by the Islamic State’s Amaq news agency appears to show the suspected Paris knife attacker pledging allegiance to the group’s leader, according to The Associated Press. The person in the video has their nose and mouth covered. It is not clear if the 2-and-a-half minute video is in fact the attacker.
Earlier, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov identified the alleged attacker as Khazmat Azimov. Azimov was born in the Russian republic of Chechnya, but was a French citizen.
“I consider it necessary to state that all responsibility for the fact that Khazmat Azimov went on the road of crime lies completely with the authorities of France,” Kadyrov said. “He was only born in Chechnya, and his growing up, the formation of his personality, his views and persuasions occurred in French society.”
The suspect killed one person and injured four others. Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the four injured people are out of life-threatening danger, The AP reported.
According to a French judicial official not authorized to speak publicly about the incident told The AP the suspect was on a police watchlist for radicalism.
Update 10:45 a.m. EDT Sunday: The Associated Press reported that the parents of the suspected attacker who killed one person and injured four others are still being questioned, according to a French judicial official. A friend of the assailant has also been taken in for questioning.
The alleged 20 year old attacker was identified by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov as as Khasan Azimov, according to The AP.
Kadyrov said he had been informed the attacker had French citizenship and had a Russian passport until he was 14.
Interior Ministry spokesman Frederic de Lanouvelle told The Associated Press the alleged attacker had no history of criminal activity or arrests and did not know the victims.
Update 2:49 a.m. EDT Sunday: The attacker who killed a 29-year-old man and hurt four others Saturday in Paris was born in Chechnya but “had French nationality,” The Associated Press reported early Sunday, citing an unnamed judicial official.
The official said the suspect, who was killed by police who responded to the knife attack, was born in 1997, according to the AP.
His parents have been detained for questioning, the official said.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.
ORIGINAL STORY: Police responded Saturday evening to reports of a man stabbing people near the Paris Opera.
One person was killed and four others injured in the melee, French authorities said. The suspect targeted the five people, killing one, seriously injuring two and leaving the other two with minor injuries.
🔴 Agression de 5 personnes dans le 2ème arrondissement de Paris par un individu armé d’un couteau: une victime est décédée, deux sont blessées grièvement et deux sont blessées légèrement. L’agresseur est décédé.— Préfecture de police (@prefpolice) May 12, 2018
The attacker, who has not been identified, died, officials said. The reason for the attack is still unknown.
The Islamic State group’s news agency said the suspect was a “soldier” and has taken claim for the attack.
“France is once again paying the price of blood, but will not cede an inch to enemies of freedom,” President Emmanuel Macron said in response to the terror group’s claim.
Toutes mes pensées vont aux victimes et aux blessés de l’attaque au couteau perpétrée ce soir à Paris, ainsi qu’à leurs proches. Je salue au nom de tous les Français le courage des policiers qui ont neutralisé le terroriste (1/2).— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) May 12, 2018
The area has been contained and the situation is under control, according to Paris police.
🔴 Agression dans le 2ème arrondissement de Paris le préfet de Police, Michel Delpuech, tient à assurer les victimes et leurs familles de son soutien. Il s’est par ailleurs entretenu avec les policiers ayant neutralisé l’assaillant pour saluer leur action.— Préfecture de police (@prefpolice) May 12, 2018
Eyewitnesses shared their account of the incident on social media.
1) I came out of a comedy show near Opera in central Paris and was immediately told to go back in because there was a madman with a knife. Once back inside we heard sirens and 2 gun shots. I then spoke to eyewitnesses who told me a man stabbed multilple people at random. pic.twitter.com/xvTmAv0ckb— Charles Pellegrin (@ChPilgrim) May 12, 2018
2) the eyewitnesses then told me police tried to tazer the attacker. This did not work, so they fired two shots. Police have now set up a perimeter and say the situation is under control. Ambulances are rushing to the scene.— Charles Pellegrin (@ChPilgrim) May 12, 2018
Media reports 4 injured, including 2 seriously (@BFMTV )— Charles Pellegrin (@ChPilgrim) May 12, 2018