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US naval base shooting: Saudi Air Force trainee watched mass shooting videos before launching the attack

A US official on Friday said the FBI was investigating social media posts to determine whether he acted alone or was connected to any broader group. 

The Saudi Arabian Air Force trainee who had fatally shot three sailors at Pensacola naval base in Florida hosted a dinner party earlier in the week and watched videos of mass shootings along with three others before the attack, reports Associated Press.

According to a US official, the Saudi Arabian Air Force trainee named Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani and his three friends watched videos of mass shootings before he killed three and injured eleven others when he opened fire at a naval base in Florida.

Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, opened fire inside a classroom at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola early Friday morning. The police had quickly responded to the scene and shot dead the shooter. The suspect was a second lieutenant attending the aviation school at the base. He referred to the United States as ‘a nation of evil’ before he went on his shooting rampage.

Six other Saudi nationals were arrested near the base shortly after the attack, as investigators began to probe a terror link. Three of the six were seen filming the entire incident as it unfolded. Two other Saudi students watched it from a car, an official said.

Read: Six Saudi nationals arrested after Saudi Air Force trainee Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani opens fires at US Naval base, 3 killed

Following the deadly attack, officials investigating the case are working to determine whether it was motivated by terrorism. US President Donald Trump has indicated he would review policies governing foreign military training in the United States.

Ten Saudi students were being held on the base on Saturday while several others were unaccounted for, said another official.

A US official on Friday said the FBI was investigating social media posts to determine whether he acted alone or was connected to any broader group. Two other US officials speaking to AP also confirmed that authorities were investigating whether the attack was terrorism-related.

Meanwhile, President Trump has also declined to say whether the shooting was terrorism-related. The President had earlier tweeted his condolences to the families of the victims on Friday and noted that Saudi King Salman had reassured him in a telephone call that the shooter “in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people.”

Reportedly, the United States has a robust training program for Saudis, providing assistance in the US and in the kingdom. Currently, there are more than 850 Saudis in the United States for various training activities. They are among more than 5,000 foreign students from 153 countries in the U.S. going through military training.

According to Fox News, Saudis have been received training at the Pensacola Naval base since the 1970s, with as many as 20 students from the Middle Eastern country studying in each class.

However, many of these trainees belong to the Saudi Royal Family, putting pressure on officials to pass pilots through the training program in an attempt to preserve diplomacy with the US ally. Many US military pilots have complained for decades that some of the Saudi pilots are not safe flyers.

NAS Pensacola has more than 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel, according to its website. The Naval Base in Florida is one of the US Navy’s most historic and storied bases. It sprawls along the waterfront southwest of downtown Pensacola and dominates the economy of the surrounding area.

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OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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