- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 28, 2003

AMMAN, Jordan, Jan. 28 (UPI) — Jordanian officials were divided Tuesday over U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's decision to order an independent investigation into the killing of a U.S. diplomat in Amman last October.

Some officials who spoke to United Press International on condition of anonymity criticized the U.S. American. They said it was "unnecessary and showed mistrust in our security's credibility." The officials, however, promised to cooperate with the U.S. investigation into the killing of senior USAID official Laurence Foley who was gunned down Oct. 28 in front of his Amman home.

One official said the Jordanian authorities "will provide all assistance and cooperation to the (U.S.) investigators."

The U.S. State Department said in a notice published in the Federal Register Monday that Powell ordered the investigation to determine whether security blunders had contributed to the killing. It said the investigation, to be carried out by a six-member board led by Wesley Egan, a former U.S. Ambassador to Jordan, would establish "whether security systems and procedures were adequate and implemented, whether intelligence or other information could have prevented the killing, and whether embassy staff acted properly."

Powell said the investigative board was "to examine the facts and the circumstances of the attack and report … such findings and recommendations as it deems appropriate."

One Jordanian official said the U.S. decision "undermines our security measures, which are the best in the region, if not in the world."

Last month, Jordanian officials arrested two men, a Jordanian and a Libyan, who they said killed Foley, 62.

The Jordanian official said the two men had "confessed to their crime and to the fact that they are affiliated with Osama bin Laden's al Qaida network."

Authorities said the suspected killers had chosen Foley as their victim because "he was an easy target." Foley did not have guards outside his Amman house.

No date has been set for the suspects' trial.

Security was quickly beefed up around Western embassies and diplomats' residences in Amman following Foley's killing, the first of a Western diplomat in Jordan.

One security official downplayed the U.S. investigation, saying Washington had "the right to investigate a murder of one of its government staff," adding U.S. authorities were "already well-informed and briefed on all the security measures and the subsequent arrests of the suspects."

But a source close to the government questioned the timing of the U.S. decision, saying it was a "form of pressure on Jordan as the Americans are preparing to launch war" on the kingdom's eastern neighbor, Iraq.

The source, who insisted on anonymity, accused Washington of "pressuring Jordan because it (Jordan) opposes the war on Iraq and has refused to provide its territories and air space to launch U.S. attacks on Iraq."

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