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Saudi Arabia will withdraw 21 military students who were receiving military training in the United States after an American investigation into a Saudi officer shooting at 3 Americans at a naval base in Florida, an incident that the US Attorney General William Barr described Monday as a terrorist act.
The December 6 attack complicated US-Saudi relations, at a time of heightened tensions between the United States and Iran, and Saudi crime in the region. The deputy police chief shot the gunman, a second lieutenant in the Saudi Air Force, Muhammad Saeed al-Shamrani, and he was killed in the incident that occurred in Pensacola, Florida.
Bar provided details that were not previously disclosed related to Al-Shamrani’s actions before the shooting.
Bar said that 21 students were withdrawn from the US Army’s curriculum and would leave the United States within hours after the investigation showed that they either had child pornography or had social media accounts that contained extremist Islamic or anti-American content.
Bar indicated that Saudi Arabia had withdrawn the students instead of being officially expelled by the United States, and added that the Saudi authorities had officially informed them that they would consider bringing criminal charges against them.
A Justice Department official, who was briefing reporters on developments and asking not to be named, said that US officials agreed with the decision to withdraw them.
Barr stated during a press conference that there was no evidence that Al-Shamrani was receiving assistance from other Saudi trainers, or that none of them had prior knowledge of the attack.
3 sailors were killed and 8 others were injured in this attack before the “Shamrani” police were killed.
“This is a terrorist act,” Barr said. Evidence showed that the gunman was driven by a jihadist ideology. During the course of the investigation, we learned that the gunman published the message of September 11 this year, in which he said that the countdown had begun.
He added, “Al-Shamrani also visited the memorial in New York City for the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks, which were carried out by Saudi kidnappers affiliated with Al-Qaeda. He also posted anti-American and anti-Israeli communication messages and jihadist messages, including one two hours before the attack.