Victims and families of people who were killed in the December 6, 2019 jihad terror attack at the Naval Air Station Pensacola are suing Saudi Arabia, according to the Associated Press, charging that “the kingdom knew the gunman had been radicalized and that it could have prevented the killings.” The suit, which was filed on Monday, “also claims that Saudi trainees knew in advance about plans for the shooting but did nothing to stop it.” If this suit were to target all those who knew and could have stopped that massacre, a few Americans might be included as well.
Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani murdered three U.S. sailors on the base, and last year it was revealed that Alshamrani, who was an officer in the Saudi Air Force, “had communicated with al-Qaida operatives about planning and tactics in the weeks leading up to the attack and that he had been radicalized abroad before coming to the U.S. to participate in a military training program.”
The lawsuit charges that Saudi officials knew that Alshamrani had been in touch with al-Qaeda, and thus had every reason to believe that he might wage jihad in the United States, “yet failed to monitor, supervise or report him. It also says the gunman told fellow Saudi trainees at a dinner party the night before the attack that he planned to carry out the shooting the following day, but instead of reporting it, they called out sick morning of the killings. One recorded the shootings while standing outside the building; two others watched from a car nearby.”
According to the suit, “none of the Royal Saudi Air Force trainees at the scene of the attack reported Al-Shamrani’s behavior nor did they try to stop” it, “because they supported it.” It charges that “Al-Shamrani was a Trojan Horse sent by his country, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and its proxy, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, for flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, under the auspices of a program tied to billions of dollars in military arms sales from the United States to the Kingdom. Little did the American people know that such an arrangement would soon devolve into a horrific, Faustian bargain.”
That is true. The American people for the most part didn’t know. And virtually everyone in Washington and in the military brass didn’t know. Those who have been warning them about this for years have been demonized and stigmatized as “Islamophobes,” and have not been listened to. But they were right all along.
Back in May 2020, then-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.” FBI Director Christopher Wray added that Alshamrani’s attack was the “brutal culmination of years of planning and preparation….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.
A Navy report made it clear that not just the Saudis, but numerous Americans, had reason to be suspicious of Alshamrani: “Military leaders, government employees, contracted employees, peers and civilians knew of isolated events and indicators, but all remained unaware of a complete picture of 2nd Lt. Alshamrani’s potential threat indicators.”
We have seen this silence in the face of threat indicators before, in the case 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. Most notorious among many such indications was the fact that in June 2007, Hasan gave a PowerPoint presentation to his coworkers, in which he proposed to show “what the Qur’an inculcates in the minds of Muslims and the potential implications this may have for the U.S. military.” 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, clearly fear of charges of “Islamophobia” prevented his Army superiors from acting upon signs of his incipient jihadist tendencies. Instead, they 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.”
Likewise in Alshamrani’s case. Enraged by an instructor, he was heard saying “I want his head!,” although he stopped himself before he completed the last word. Everyone who heard him knew that it would have been “Islamophobic” to start to wonder if maybe Alshamrani was inclined to jihad. His superiors also didn’t know that he had purchased a gun, likely because they were probably tiptoeing around him, knowing that there is a heavy price to pay for too much scrutiny of a Muslim officer.
The victims’ lawsuit demonstrates yet again how fear of “Islamophobia” prevents officials from acting upon warning signs of an impending jihad attack. How many more people have to die before this is addressed? During Biden’s handlers’ administration, the military’s culture, of denial, willful ignorance, and weakness is likely only to get worse.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 21 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 Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.