This past Friday the United States suffered another domestic terrorist attack at the hands of a Saudi national. According to multiple news outlets and citing an article from dailymail.uk, Saudi Air Force trainee Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani opened fire inside a classroom at a Naval Air Station in Pensacola, FL. His actions resulted in the deaths of three and injuries of eight. Police responded quickly to the scene and he was shot dead. Alshamrani was a second lieutenant attending the aviation school at the base. The Pentagon said his training with the US military began in August 2016 and was due to finish in August 2020.
On Friday evening, the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist media, claimed they had tracked a Twitter account belonging to Alshamrani which featured a disturbing manifesto written just hours before the shooting.
‘I’m against evil, and America as a whole has turned into a nation of evil,’ it read.
‘I’m not against you for just being American, I don’t hate you because your freedoms, I hate you because every day you supporting, funding and committing crimes not only against Muslims but also humanity,’ Alshamrani wrote.
ABC News reported that investigators were working to determine if the shooter, in fact, wrote the tweet.
The Twitter account that posted the manifesto – which also condemned US support for Israel and included a quote from Al-Qaeda’s deceased leader, Saudi Arabian-Osama bin Laden – has now been suspended.
Six other Saudi nationals were arrested near the base shortly after the attack. Investigators began to probe a terror link as reported on in an article posted by the New York Times. Of the six, three were seen filming the entire incident, according to a person briefed on the initial stages of the investigation. It was not known whether the six Saudis detained were students in the classroom building, and there was no immediate indication that those filming the incident were connected to the gunman, the person said.
According to Sheriff David Morgan of Escambia County, the shooting took place over two floors in a classroom. Two deputies were shot in the gun battle but were expected to recover. The gunman used a locally purchased Glock 45 9-millimeter handgun with an extended magazine and had four to six other magazines in his possession when he was taken down by a sheriff’s deputy, according to the person with knowledge of the investigation.
Representative Matt Gaetz, a Republican whose congressional district includes Pensacola, said he was convinced, based on what he had been told, that the shooting was a terrorist act, although he declined to say what led him to that belief.
“We can safely call this an act of terrorism, not an act of workplace violence,” he told WEAR, a local television station. And Senator Rick Scott of Florida, also a Republican, said the attack should be considered terrorism, regardless of the gunman’s motivation.
The Pensacola naval base has long hosted international students from United States allies for flight training, including high-ranking Saudi officials. A “couple hundred” foreign students are enrolled in the program, said Captain Timothy Kinsella Jr., the base commander. Unauthorized weapons are not allowed on the base, Captain Kinsella said, adding, “You can’t bring a weapon on base unless you’re part of the security forces.”
King Salman of Saudi Arabia called President Trump to offer his condolences and share that Saudis are infuriated by the shooting, Mr. Trump said.
“The King said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, adding that King Salman also said the gunman does not represent the feelings of Saudis.
In a statement, the Saudi embassy in Washington said King Salman had directed the kingdom’s security services to cooperate with their American counterparts “to uncover information that will help determine the cause of this horrific attack.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Republican, traveled to Pensacola on Friday afternoon. He suggested the government of Saudi Arabia might need to compensate the families of the shooting victims.
The shooting was the second this week at a US Navy base. The first, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Oahu on Wednesday, came as that installation was preparing for the 78th anniversary on Dec. 7 of the Japanese attack that marked the United States’ entry into World War II.
An active-duty US sailor opened fire at a dry dock at the base, the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, fatally shooting two shipyard workers and injuring another before killing himself, the authorities said.
The motive for the shooting is not yet known. It was also not clear whether the active-duty sailor targeted the three shipyard workers — Department of Defense civilians — or fired indiscriminately. The sailor was assigned to the U.S.S. Columbia, a submarine docked at the shipyard for maintenance, Rear Adm. Robert B. Chadwick II, commander for the Navy in Hawaii, said.
In the 2018 fiscal year, some 62,700 foreign military students from 155 countries participated in U.S.-run training, the total cost of which was approximately $776.3 million, according to Department of Defense (DOD) records.
Among them is a contingent of Saudis who recently arrived at Naval Air Station Pensacola. The delegation came under a Navy program that offers training to U.S. allies, known as the Naval Education and Training Security Assistance Field Activity.
A person familiar with the program said that Saudi Air Force officers selected for military training in the United States are intensely vetted by both countries.
The Saudi personnel are ‘hand-picked’ by their military and often come from elite families, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they did not have permission to speak to a reporter. Trainees must speak excellent English, the person said.
Saudi Arabia, a major purchaser of U.S. arms, accounts for a massive portion of America’s spending on foreign military training. In the 2018 fiscal year, the U.S. trained 1,753 Saudi military members at an estimated cost of $120,903,786, according to DOD records. For the fiscal year 2019, the State Department planned to train roughly 3,150 Saudis in the U.S.
While mass shootings in the United States are common, those at military facilities are rare. In July 2015, Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez carried out an attack at two military installations in Tennessee that killed four Marines and a sailor, with the FBI concluding that a ‘foreign terrorist group’ inspired the violence.
Two years earlier, Aaron Alexis killed 12 people and wounded eight others at the Washington Navy Yard, just two miles (three kilometers) from the US Capitol building, before being shot dead by officers. Four years before that, Major Nidal Hasan, a US Army psychiatrist, killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others at Fort Hood. He was considered a ‘lone wolf’ who supported the terror network Al-Qaeda.
What do all of these shootings have in common? They were all committed by people who have either sworn allegiance to protect and defend the United States or were citizens of countries who are allegedly our allies. They were also predominantly inspired by radical Islamic ideologies.
19 men affiliated with Al Qaeda committed the 9/11 attacks. 15 of the 19 were from Saudi Arabia, two were from the United Arab Emirates, one was from Lebanon and the other was Egyptian. With the disproportionate amount of the attackers coming from Saudi Arabia, you would naturally begin to question our relationship with the Kingdom and those who rule it. Why have our elected leaders maintained a so-called alliance for decades before and after the worst terrorist attack on domestic soil? The reasons may sound complex at first but they are also very simple.
Cambridge Dictionary defines the word ally as a country that has agreed to give help and support to another, especially during a war, or a person who helps and supports someone else. With that understanding, you then should ask yourself what are the two commodities that make the world go round? What do the Saudi’s have in abundance that makes the US all but forgive the attacks on that horrific day nearly two decades ago? The answer is oil and money.
Since the discovery of petroleum in 1938 in its eastern province, Saudi Arabia has become the world’s largest producer of oil. It was only until recently that the U.S. surpassed them in exports. Saudi Arabia along with Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, and Venezuela were the first five members of The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). As of September 2018, OPEC accounted for an estimated 44 percent of global oil production and 81.5 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves. With 14 nations in total, Saudi Arabia has been labeled the de facto leader of the group. Although the United States has recently become “energy independent” we are still reliant on OPEC to keep the oil flowing globally, which helps to keep the price per gallon low domestically.
Along with oil, you have military trade agreements. In 2017 Saudi Arabia agreed to purchase arms from the United States totaling $110 Billion immediately and $350 Billion over ten years. Those lucrative contracts provide for thousands of jobs across the country. Not to mention the campaign contributions made by lobbyists to politicians whose districts encompass and support the military-industrial complex. When people question why did we invade Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11 and not the country where the majority of the hijackers were from you can credit our alliance with Saudi Arabia, a country who buys our allegiance through reduced oil prices and purchases of billions of dollars worth of our weapons technology as the main reason. With ‘friends’ like these, who needs enemies?