Manhunt in Jordan for killers of 3 US servicemen, DEBKAfile, November 5, 2016
Jordanian forces, along with US special forces and helicopters, are engaged in a massive manhunt for the Islamist gunmen who murdered three US military trainers and seriously injured others Friday, Nov. 4 at the Prince Faisal Air Base near the southern Jordanian town of Al-Jafr.
Although Jordanian officials first reported the American servicemen were shot in their car while trying to enter the air base, the attack is being treated as a well-planned ISIS or Al Qaeda terrorist ambush that is thought to have been perpetrated by three to five gunmen.
Both the US and Jordanian authorities prefer to keep the identity of the perpetrators dark, DEBKAfile’s counterterrorism sources report. It is therefore hard to determine whether the killers were Jordanian servicemen on the base or outsiders.
The presentation of the shootout as caused by a misunderstanding that arose when the American trainers failed to halt at the gate of the base is certainly far from the truth. The gunfire on the US vehicle came from directions – one from inside the gate and two from the outside.
This was the most serious Islamist terrorist attack on the 2,000 US soldiers serving in Jordan, largely on training missions and in support of operations in neighboring Iraq and Syria. The base lies 288km south of Amman in a remote desert location near the Saudi border.
The precise timing of the attack indicated that the terrorists had precise intelligence about the movements of the US servicemen. A joint Jordanian-US inquiry is taking place to find how this sensitive information reached the gunmen.
DEBKAfile’s military sources add that Israel’s army and police also reinforced patrols on the Jordanian border Saturday in case the gunmen on the run from Jordanian and US search parties tried to slip across into the Israeli Negev and cut through to Egyptian Sinai. They could call on local Bedouin smugglers to help them reach the northern regions of the peninsula which are swarming with ISIS networks.
The attack on the US trainers in Jordan occurred just 24 hours after ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made a rare audio tape appearance to urge suicide bombers” all over the world to destroy the cities of the unbelievers.”
Our Islamist terror experts interpreted this as a coded message to ISIS sleeper cells in Western cities and the Middle East to go into action.
It also coincided with the anniversary of the Nov. 9, 2015 terrorist attack at the Jordanian Police Academy outside Amman. Then, a Jordanian officer opened fire on a group of Western military trainers killing two Americans and a South African.