Two American contractors were among five killed today at a police training facility in Jordan in what appeared to be at first blush a green-on-blue attack in an unlikely country.
The attack was 10 years to the day after a trio of coordinated hotel bombings orchestrated by al-Qaeda in Iraq killed 60 people across Amman, including at a wedding.
The shooter, Capt. Anwar Abu Zaid, 28, of the northern Jerash province, was killed by security forces at the U.S.-funded Jordan International Police Training Center southeast of Amman.
State Department press secretary John Kirby said the training at the center “is predominantly arranged for Palestinian security forces to teach them basic police and security skills.”
It’s been there since 2008 and it is “coordinated and run and funded” by the State Department in partnership with Jordan, who owns the facility.
Zaid reportedly opened fire while people were eating lunch.
In addition to the two Americans, one South African trainer and two Jordanians were also killed. Two Americans, a Lebanese and four Jordanians were wounded. King Abdullah visited wounded patients today at King Hussein Medical City.
“Obviously, a full investigation is taking place,” President Obama said in the Oval Office this morning with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “We take this very seriously, and we’ll be working closely with the Jordanians to determine exactly what happened. But at this stage, I want to just let everyone know that this is something we’re paying close attention to.”
“We’re with each other in more ways than one,” Netanyahu said while expressing condolences for the murdered Americans.
The Jordan Times reported that residents of Zaid’s home village described him as “a very kind person, who was religious but moderate.” He graduated from the military branch of Mutah University and was married with two children. One report said that he had asked to be decommissioned last month.
His brother, Fadi Abu Zaid, told the Associated Press that he’d been working at the training center for “several months” and “had given notice recently because he had received a job offer from a Gulf country.”
Zaid was the nephew of a former parliamentarian, Suleiman Saed.
The U.S. Embassy in Amman issued a security message to U.S. citizens in Jordan detailing the incident but stressing “it is premature to speculate on motive at this point.”
“We strongly condemn this incident and we deeply appreciate the cooperation and support received from our Jordanian partners. The Embassy has not changed its security posture.”
Kirby said the two that were killed “were what we call monitors; they were contractors contracted through the State Department as trainer monitors for this curriculum.”
Both worked for DynCorp, which said in a statement today that “the company extends its thoughts and prayers to all involved and to their families and loved ones,” but “out of respect for their privacy, we will not be providing additional information at this time.”
“I would not even begin to speculate on motive here, in terms of what happened,” Kirby said. “I think we need to let the investigators do their jobs.”