Pensacola shooting: US says Saudi Arabia gave ‘total support’ for probe

A general view of the atmosphere at the Pensacola Naval Air Station following a shooting on December 06, 2019 in Pensacola, Florida. (AFP)

The fatal shooting of three Americans by a Saudi Arabian Air Force officer at a Florida naval base last month was “an act of terrorism,” US Attorney General William Barr said on Monday, adding that 21 Saudi military trainees will be pulled out of the United States following an investigation into the incident.

During a news conference, Barr said there was no evidence of assistance by other Saudi trainees or that any of them had knowledge in advance of the attack.

However, during the probe into the shooting it was discovered that 17 of the cadets being expelled had social media containing “some jihadi or anti-American content,” Barr said. Fifteen cadets “had some sort of contact with child pornography.”

Saudi Air Force Second Lieutenant Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, 21, was fatally shot by a deputy sheriff during the December 6 incident at the facility in Pensacola, Florida.

“This was an act of terrorism,” Barr said. “During the course of the investigation, we learned that the shooter posted a message on September 11 of this year stating, ‘The countdown has begun.’”

Barr added that Alshamrani also posted anti-American messages on social media, including two hours before the attack.

Saudi Arabia provided “complete and total support” to the American investigation of the incident, Barr said.

The Saudi Embassy on Monday said in a Twitter post the Kingdom will continue to cooperate with the US if additional information is required.

“The close cooperation between the two nations on intelligence matters and counter terrorism has saved the lives of many in the US, KSA and elsewhere, making the world a safer place,” the embassy stated.

Over 28,000 Saudis have undergone military training in the US over several decades without incident, according to the statement.

“Finally, close to a million Saudis have come to the US for their education, training and other reasons over several decades. The overwhelming majority of them are law-abiding citizens who view themselves as unofficial ambassadors of the kingdom.”

- With Reuters

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 10:05 - GMT 07:05
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