A source familiar with the investigation into the murders by Saudi national Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani of three U.S. Navy personnel at the base in Pensacola says that six additional Saudis have been arrested near the scene. The New York Times reports that three of those arrested had been filming the terrorist incident.
Six other Saudi nationals were detained for questioning near the scene of the shooting, including three who were seen filming the entire incident, according to a person briefed on the initial stages of the investigation. A group that monitors online jihadist activity said that shortly before the shooting, a Twitter account with a name matching the gunman’s posted a “will” calling the United States a “nation of evil” and criticizing its support for Israel.
The gunman was using a locally purchased Glock 45 9-millimeter handgun with an extended magazine and had four to six other magazines in his possession when he was taken down by a sheriff’s deputy, the person familiar with the investigation said.
Authorities are being tight-lipped about the progress of the investigation, perhaps in hopes of rounding up additional suspects.
Donald Trump said that he had spoken with Saudi King Salman, who expressed his regrets on behalf of the Saudi people at the murders.
President Donald Trump this afternoon tweeted that he spoke on the phone with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, who he said expressed ‘sincere condolences’ to those impacted by the shooting.
Trump added that King Salman informed him the Saudi people love Americans and ‘are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter…’
Shortly before 8pm Eastern Time, Saudi officials condemned the shooting and claimed they are willing to cooperate with the investigation.
What connection those detained by the FBI have to the shooter is unclear. Authorities aren’t even sure if they’re connected to the terror attack.
It was not known whether the six Saudis detained were students in the classroom building, and there was no immediate indication that those filming the incident were connected to the gunman, according to the person familiar with the investigation.
The Twitter posting cited by the SITE intelligence group, which monitors jihadist activity, included three typed messages posted hours before Friday’s shooting. “Your decision-makers, the politicians, the lobbyists and the major corporations are the ones gaining from your foreign policy, and you are the ones paying the price for it,” it said. SITE said the posting quoted the former Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden.
Law enforcement officials did not confirm the authenticity of the account.
The U.S. trains more than 62,000 foreign military personnel each year. While military authorities claim that the Saudi personnel on base had been thoroughly vetted by both sides, a thorough review of those procedures is obviously called for. Apparently, posting anti-American quotes from Osama bin Laden on social media didn’t raise any red flags anywhere. That’s a problem.
Once again, Saudi Arabia has shown itself to be a problematic ally. And given their vital role in countering Iranian aggression in the Middle East, this couldn’t have come at a worse time.