Missile Fired at U.S. Navy Ship in Jordan

At least three missiles were fired toward the U.S.S. Ashland at port in Jordan early this morning. No U.S. personnel were injured but a Jordanian soldier, Ahmed Jamal Saleh, was killed.

Missile Fired at U.S. Navy Ship in Jordan (AP)

Unknown assailants fired at least three missiles from Jordan early Friday, with one narrowly missing a U.S. Navy ship docked at port, an attack that killed a Jordanian soldier. One missile fell close to an airport in neighboring Israel, officials said. The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, said two American amphibious ships were docked in Aqaba when a mortar was fired toward them. The vessels later sailed out of port as a result of the attacks, U.S. Navy spokesman Lt. Cdr. Charlie Brown told The Associated Press in Bahrain.

Jordanian soldier Ahmed Jamal Saleh was fatally wounded when the mortar sailed over one of the U.S. ships and slammed into a warehouse, a Jordanian security official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. The soldier died in the ambulance taking him to hospital; another Jordanian was also wounded, the official added.

“At approximately 8:44 a.m. local time, a suspected mortar rocket flew over the USS Ashland’s bow and impacted in a warehouse on the pier in the vicinity of the Ashland and USS Kearsage,” Brown said. “The warehouse sustained an approximate 8-foot hole in the roof of the building.” No sailors or Marines were injured in the attack, Brown said.

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Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, speaking in southern Israel, said the attacks were “intended to hit the Israeli side and the Jordanian side as well.” Jordan, which is home to 1.8 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants, and Israel signed a 1994 peace deal.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attacks, but Islamic extremists have long criticized Jordan’s U.S.-allied moderate government for its peace treaty with Israel and close ties with the West. “We still don’t know who is behind this act but I’m sure the Jordanians will do all they can to prevent such attacks in the future as in the past,” Mofaz said, adding Israeli authorities are in contact with Jordanians over the incidents.

There’s too little information here to even speculate as to the motivation behind the attacks. Certainly, the ongoing Gaza Strip pullout is putting an additional spotlight on U.S.-Israeli relations. Still, the U.S. is at war with Islamist extremists generally, so the timing may be coincidental.

Dan Riehl has a roundup of other news coverage of the story, including reports that Israeli targets were in fact hit by Katusya rockets.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, Military Affairs, Terrorism
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.