Politics

Trump leaps to Saudi defense in the wake of another terrorist attack on U.S. soil

Investigations continue by both Saudi and U.S. authorities of a shooting at a Florida naval base. A member of the Royal Saudi Air Force fatally shot three people and injured eight Friday.

The investigation into the incident has officially been characterized as a terrorism inquiry as new details continue to emerge. FBI special agent in charge Rachel Rojas said investigators are working with “the presumption that this was an act of terrorism,” as they do with most similar cases in order to use certain investigative techniques. 

Twenty-one-year-old Second Lieutenant Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani has been identified as the sole shooter. Alshamrani used a Glock handgun to open fire in a classroom at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida before being shot dead by authorities. Six other Saudi nationals, including friends of Alshamrani, were detained for questioning. No arrests have been made in the case, and a motive is still unknown, Rojas said Sunday.

Agents collected surveillance videos and videos taken by bystanders as part of the investigation. Bystander videos depicted footage after the attack had begun and when first responders had arrived, FBI Public Affairs Officer Amanda Wordford said in a news release. The videos are being analyzed for clues.

According to The New York Times, a report emerged that the Saudi trainee had filed a formal complaint earlier this year against one of his instructors, who had left him “infuriated” in a class by tagging him with a derogatory nickname. The instructor supposedly referred to Alshamrani as “Porn Stash” (as it was spelled in the complaint) in front of 10 other aviation students.

While investigators are still trying to determine the motive for the attack, investigative interviews have found that Alshamrani had shown videos of mass shootings at a dinner party the night before the attack. This has led the FBI to investigate possible political, religious, or other motives.

President Donald Trump spoke with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about the shooting Sunday. “The Crown Prince reiterated Saudi Arabia’s commitment to working with the United States to prevent a horrific attack like the Pensacola shooting from ever happening again,” the White House said in a statement. “The President thanked the Crown Prince for Saudi Arabia’s assistance with the investigation and continued partnership.”

Trump also announced that the king will be taking care of the victims and their families—as if money is the solution to everything. “The king will be involved in taking care of families and loved ones,” Trump said following his phone call. “He feels very strongly. He’s very, very devastated by what happened and what took place. Likewise the Crown Prince.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Rep. Matt Gaetz, both allies of the president, have directed harsh words at Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of the shooting. The governor said Friday that he told Trump that the Saudi government is “going to owe a debt here given that this was one of their individuals,” CNN reported.


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