Pensacola shooting that took lives of three American sailors and severely wounded eight others has been declared an act of terrorism motivated by “jihadist ideology” by Attorney General William P Barr. He and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were due to announce findings of the investigation into the December 6 shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Monday.
At a news conference, Barr said that the 21-year-old member of Saudi Royal Air Force, Mohammed Alshamrani was training at the Naval air base, which he entered and “proceeded to walk around shooting down his unarmed victims in cold blood”.
The gunman, Alshamrani was killed by law enforcement during the attack. The attorney general said that he had a social media history of posting his anti-Israel, anti-American and Jihadi beliefs. This including an post on September 11 stating that “the countdown has begun”, while one was also posted two hours before the Pensacola shooting.
A Saudi national, Alshamrani came to the United States in 2017 for a three-year training program. During a 15-minute act of violence, he shot the pictures of President Donald Trump’s and a former president. FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich highlighted that he also made critical statements against American servicemen overseas while shooting.
The violence called for an immediate review of the system allowing foreign military trainees on the US bases. On Monday, William Barr defended the program, describing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia “an important military partner” and stating that the Arab nation fully cooperated in the investigation.
However, he also stated that 21 other Saudi nationals training on the US bases have been expelled, as the investigations uncovered “derogatory material”. While 17 of these 21 “had social media containing some jihadi or anti-American content”, 15 had contact with child pornography, which is forbidden in Saudi.
The Kingdom determined that the evaluated material of each case amounted to “conduct unbecoming” of a military officer, and the 21 trainees were consequently disenrolled and deported on a flight to Riyadh.
The US and Saudi have been indulged in years of alliance, working on a barter system. While the Arab nation provides oil to America, the US has been neglecting its human rights violations and providing military and weapon support to the Kingdom. Saudi, on the other hand, has well-maintained an upper hand in the relations despite its involvement with the terror world, as it is a known big time supporter of al-Qaeda.
While the Saudi gunman of Pensacola shooting was killed, no other co-conspirators have been charged in the shooting. Barr also stated that the investigations found no evidence that any of Alshamrani’s friends or fellow trainees from his home country had advance knowledge of the attack.
Although the investigators interviewed over 500 people and collected the data in the case, the attorney general expressed frustration over FBI’s failure in getting access to the data on Alshamrani’s two iPhones because of Apple’s built-in encryption.
“Both phones are engineered to make it virtually impossible to unlock them without the password. It is very important to know with whom and about what the shooter was communicating before he died,” Barr said.
Barr also stated that the shooter placed one of his iPhones on the floor and shot a bullet into it, during the Pensacola shooting last month. Although the damage of has been fixed, the FBI is yet not able to get past the passwords of the two phones. Last week, the FBI sent Apple a letter asking for its help in unlocking the phones.
As of now, the Pensacola shooting is just an act of terrorism, the purpose of which remains uncertain. However, if the FBI receives access to the two iPhones, there is a possibility of a new chapter to come up in the case.
White House officials continue to change stance on Saudi Arabia covering the cost of the additional