News & Politics

Shock! Pensacola Shooter Turns Out to Be Al-Qaeda Operative Who Plotted His Attack for Years

Pensacola attacker Mohammed Alshamrani (FBI)

The Associated Press reported Monday that “the gunman who killed three U.S. sailors at a military base in Florida last year repeatedly communicated” with al-Qaeda operatives “about planning in the months leading up to the attack.” And he didn’t just communicate with them. Attorney General William Barr noted that the shooter, Mohammed Alshamrani, had “significant ties to Al Qaeda and the Arabian Peninsula not only before the attack, but before he even arrived in the United States.” Yet he was still able to get into the country and execute the attack he planned – and that is the real story here.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said that Alshamrani’s attack on December 6, 2019, at Naval Air Station Pensacola was the “brutal culmination of years of planning and preparation.”

He added: “We now know enough to see Alshamrani for what he was — a determined AQAP [Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] terrorist who spent years preparing to attack us. He wasn’t just coordinating with them about planning and tactics. He was helping the organization making the most it could out of his murders.” Wray said that al-Qaeda “certainly more than just inspired” Alshamrani’s massacre.

How many Americans know that al-Qaeda claimed — three months ago — to be behind the murderous attack by a Muslim from Saudi Arabia at a U.S. Naval Base in Florida last year? How many Americans do you think even know that there was a murderous attack by a Muslim at a U.S. Naval Base in Florida last year?

The establishment media continually glosses over information of this kind, and instead dins into Americans’ ears that “white supremacists” are the greatest threat America faces, and that Muslims are innocent victims of “Islamophobia.”

The clueless and/or complicit FBI, an outrageously corrupt organization, doesn’t help. Mohammad Alshamrani, now confirmed to have been an al-Qaeda operative, was able to get into the United States because the agencies that should have detected his jihadist sentiments and kept him out of the country are institutionally committed to the idea that Islam is a religion of peace, and that any attempt to discern whether or not any individual Muslim is a violent jihadist, or sympathetic to the global jihad, is dismissed as “Islamophobia.”

The story of Mohammed Alshamrani shows that no lessons have been learned from the jihad murders of U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who murdered thirteen people and wounded thirty at Fort Hood on November 5, 2009, while screaming “Allahu akbar.”

Before his attack, Hasan had given numerous indications of what he was planning to do. In June 2007, Hasan gave a PowerPoint presentation to his coworkers; an official who spoke to some of those who attended recounted that “Hasan apparently gave a long lecture on the Qur’an and talked about how if you don’t believe, you are condemned to hell. Your head is cut off. You’re set on fire. Burning oil is burned down your throat.”

According to AP, “he gave a class presentation questioning whether the U.S.-led war on terror was actually a war on Islam. And students said he suggested that Shariah, or Islamic law, trumped the Constitution and he attempted to justify suicide bombings.”

Although Hasan’s jihadist tendencies were well known, his Army superiors kept promoting him. AP reported in January 2010 that “a Defense Department review of the shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, has found the doctors overseeing Maj. Nidal Hasan’s medical training repeatedly voiced concerns over his strident views on Islam and his inappropriate behavior, yet continued to give him positive performance evaluations that kept him moving through the ranks.”

And so Hasan rose through Army ranks even as he justified suicide bombing and spouted hatred for America while wearing its uniform, and he did so with extraordinarily positive recommendations. In an evaluation dated March 13, 2009, just short of eight months before his jihad attack, Hasan’s superiors wrote that he displayed “outstanding moral integrity” and praised his project topic for his master’s of public health degree: “the impact of beliefs and culture on views regarding military service during the Global War on Terror.”

They even praised him specifically as a Muslim, in passages that their authors must have remembered with stinging regret after his jihad murders: one said that he should be put into a position “that allows others to learn from his perspectives” and declared that his “unique insights into the dimensions of Islam” and his “moral reasoning” could be of “great potential interest and strategic importance to the U.S. Army.”

A July 1, 2009, report went even farther, saying that Hasan had “a keen interest in Islamic culture and faith and has shown capacity to contribute to our psychological understanding of Islamic nationalism and how it may relate to events of national security and Army interest in the Middle East and Asia.” Among his “unique skills” were listed “Islamic studies” and “traumatic stress spectrum psychiatric disorders.” The report concluded that “Maj. Hasan has great potential as an Army officer.” His murders were four months away.

Even while writing these effusive recommendations, Hasan’s superiors and those around him were aware of his pro-jihad statements, and were worried about them. “Yet no one in Hasan’s chain of command,” reports AP, “appears to have challenged his eligibility to hold a secret security clearance even though they could have because the statements raised doubt about his loyalty to the United States.”

The reason for the silence in the face of all these warnings is obvious. Hasan’s superiors were neither stupid nor incompetent. They no doubt knew what would have happened if they removed Hasan from his position or even simply reprimanded and disciplined him for his statements about Islam. Hamas-linked Muslim Brotherhood front groups that pose as Muslim civil rights organizations in the United States, such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) would have been quick to charge the Army with “Islamophobia” – an irrational prejudice against Muslims and Islam.

They might have found themselves in the midst of a firestorm. It isn’t hard to imagine how events would have played out: the mainstream media would have embarked upon a full-bore witch hunt about the alleged witch hunt against Muslims in the military, interviewing the weeping mothers of Muslim soldiers killed in the line of duty while fighting for the U.S. in Iraq or Afghanistan. Army Generals would have had to answer questions about alleged discrimination against Muslims in the military on the Sunday morning talk shows. And ultimately Barack Obama would have ordered a special effort to make Muslims in the military feel at home and welcome.

Worse still, those who might have complained about Hasan would almost certainly have faced public abuse, media smearing by CAIR and ISNA as “Islamophobes,” and possibly even disciplinary action from their superiors. Chris Matthews, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart and Bill Maher would have subjected them to nationally broadcast ridicule. All Army personnel would have been ordered into sensitivity training, perhaps run by CAIR itself.

Now this whole scenario has played out again, with minor variations. Mohammad Alshamrani, despite being a committed al-Qaeda jihadi, was let into the United States and given flight training at a Naval Air Base. No one dared question or investigate him in any serious manner, or the wisdom of letting him in without such an investigation, for fear of being tagged as an “Islamophobe” and facing career ruin. How many more Americans will have to die before this suicidal political correctness is confronted?

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 19 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.