US Welcomes Conviction of American Diplomat's Killers

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:15 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - The U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan, said it welcomes the conviction of eight Muslims who murdered an American diplomat in 2002.

Laurence Foley, 60, an administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development at the Embassy in Amman, was gunned down on his way to work a year and a half ago.

At the time of his death, Foley was working on projects to help deliver clean drinking water to Jordanians and to rehabilitate primary health care centers throughout the country.

"We appreciate the diligence of the Jordanian investigators, judicial officials, police and other security personnel involved in bringing those responsible for Larry's murder to justice," a statement on the U.S. Embassy in Amman's website said.

A total of 11 suspects were tried -- six in absentia. A Jordanian military court sentenced eight of them to death, including Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a senior al Qaeda operative, who was among those tried in absentia.

Two other militants were given jail terms and just one was acquitted. The eleven suspects included Libyan, Syrian, Palestinian and Jordanian militants.

Zarqawi, a 37-year-old Jordanian, is wanted by the U.S., for his links to al Qaeda. The U.S. is offering up to a $10-million reward on its Rewards for Justice website in exchange for information leading to Zarqawi's arrest. He is believed to be a "close associate" of Osama bin Laden.

Zarqawi allegedly released an audiotape on Tuesday aired on an Islamic website urging militants in Iraq to increase their attacks against U.S. troops and what he called their Shi'ite "agents and hypocrites," reports said.

At least 30 American soldiers and 100 Iraqis have been killed in fierce clashes since the weekend between coalition forces and followers of a radical Shi'ite Muslim cleric in several cities on the one hand and Sunni Muslim insurgents in Fallujah where U.S. troops are attempting to rout militants from a guerrilla stronghold and Ramadi, where Sunni militants opened a second front.

The voice on the tape claimed responsibility for a wave of deadly attacks against U.S. and coalition troops since last April and urged the militants to fight.

"God has privileged you and humiliated at your hands the mightiest power in history," the voice on the tape said.

"Sharpen your swords and burn the ground under the invaders' feet. Fight the Americans, fight the rejectionists [Shi'ites] and the agents and hypocrites," he added.

The U.S. vowed on Wednesday to quash the Shi'ite militia.

But Jerusalem Post reporter Matthew Gutman, currently in Iraq, said in a radio interview that he expected the trouble to continue.

"The situation is actually not as bad as it might seem on television. People are tense here. They're preparing for the unexpected and increasing clashes between American forces and members of the... [Shi'ite] militia," Gutman said from Baghdad.

"I think the uprising will continue and I think it is going to get worse, especially in the Sunni areas after the three-day American operations in Fallujah," he said.

American troops sealed off Fallujah earlier this week, following the murder and mutilation of four American civilian contractors there last week.