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US See Possible Political Motive Behind Shooting Death of US Diplomat in Amman - 2002-10-28

The United States is promising full support for Jordan's investigation of Monday's shooting death of a U.S. diplomat in Amman. Administration officials say circumstances of the killing of Laurence Foley, an official of the U.S. Agency for International Development, suggest a political motive.

The slain official, gunned down outside his residence in Amman as he left for work Monday morning, had been with the U.S. aid agency for 14 years with previous postings in Bolivia, Peru, and Zimbabwe. His death was lamented by agency administrator Andrew Natsios, who said "terrorists and criminals" cannot destroy the message of public service embodied in a person like Mr. Foley.

"Our mission to improve the lives of people in the developing world will continue. And the message of the life of Larry Foley will continue to be heard. This is the ultimate tribute that we can pay. Our deepest condolences go to his wife Virginia, and their children and grandchildren and all those who grieve in AID. Our prayers are with his family," he said.

Officials here say the U.S. embassy in Amman was closed in the aftermath of the killing and that the Jordanian government was providing increased security for U.S. personnel. And although the Jordanian investigation of the death had only just begun, they said initial indications suggest a political move for the killing.

At a news briefing, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said a great deal has been done to increase security at U.S. embassies and other high-profile institutions abroad. But he said as this happens, terrorists become more inclined to attack so-called "soft" targets including civilians.

"And so you get, you know, bombs at a night club in Bali, attacks on a theater in Moscow, and maybe we can't link it yet but maybe they start going after the more-vulnerable members of your staff in other places. So this is why the action against terrorism has to be international, this is why action against terrorism has to be thorough. This is why it has to be pro-active in finding these networks, arresting these people, taking their financing, destroying their ability to operate," Mr. Boucher said.

Mr. Boucher said Jordan's King Abdullah telephoned the U.S. ambassador in Amman Edward Gnehm to express condolences over the killing of Mr. Foley, and to pledge that "every resource available" will be used to track down those responsible.

Mr. Foley, who was 60 years old, had been posted in Amman for two years, and only a day before his death had been given a meritorious honor award for his service with the aid agency in Jordan.