U.S. Vulnerability Exposed – After 9/11 Attacks, Radicalized Saudi Gunman Attacked American Naval Base

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Dec 09 2019
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As Trump administration scrambles to shield Saudi Arabia from an unexpected attack by a Saudi national at a U.S. Navy base in Florida, the memory of September 11, 2001 attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States re-emerges. Of the 19 hijackers of the 9/11 attacks, 15 of them were from Saudi Arabia (2 from UAE, 1 Egypt and another from Lebanon).


Shocked by the attack involving a member of the Saudi military who was in the U.S. for training, President Donald Trump has been telling the Americans how angry the Saudi people are by the barbaric actions of the shooter. The president was trying very hard to convince the American people that the Saudis, including King Salman, were extremely devastated.


This is not the first time Trump administration is seen too eager to be PR agents for the Saudis. After the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, the Saudi dissident and a legal American resident, President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tried to cover up intelligence findings that linked Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, to the gruesome murder.

US President Donald Trump with Saudi Crown Prince - Laughing

The three favourite magic words previously used by Donald Trump – “Radical Islamic Terrorism” – suddenly disappeared from the president’s vocabulary. But the president could not hide the fact that it was an act of terrorism when the Saudi – Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani – killed three and injured seven others at Naval Air Station Pensacola before he was killed by local law enforcement.


It has been unveiled that the gunman and three other Saudi students had watched videos of mass shootings earlier in the week before the shooting was launched. A member of the Royal Saudi Air Force, Mohammed Saeed was reported to have posted criticism of U.S. wars and quoted slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on social media hours before the shooting spree.


Mohammed Saeed, a 21-year-old Second Lieutenant, was apparently on the military base as part of a U.S. Navy training program designed to foster links with foreign allies. Currently, there are more than 852 Saudis in the United States for various training activities. And they are among 5,181 foreign students from 153 countries in the U.S. going through military training.

US Pensacola Naval Military Base Terrorist Attack - Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani

Investigators said they have found no sign that Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani had links to international terrorist groups and think he may have radicalized on his own. The gunman reportedly first entered the United States in 2018, returned to Saudi Arabia, then re-entered the U.S. in February, and had reported for training at the base about three days before the attack.


However, the incident has raised eyebrows after 10 other Saudi military students were being held for questioning by investigators in Florida, including three who were seen filming the incident. Exactly why 3 of the Saudis were involved in the recording of the shooting? Were they, like the gunman, also radicalized and wanted to use the video as propaganda, learning or recruitment tool?


Like it or not, it’s highly suspicious that the three Saudis being interrogated may know in advance about their colleague’s intention to launch the terrorist attack. Mohammed Saeed’s Twitter account, which was suspended on Friday, contained notes in English, criticizing U.S. support for Israel and accusing Washington of “funding crimes against Muslims.”

September 11 - 911 Attacks USA - Saudi Arabia Sponsors Funding

Like Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, most of the Saudi team of al-Qaeda operatives also received flight training in the United States and then crashed planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Several members of Congress have called for canceling or suspending training programs until better screening procedures could be adopted.


Even though “non-immigrant aliens” admitted to the U.S. for a specific period of time are generally banned from transporting or possessing firearms, there are exceptions, including for law enforcement from “a friendly foreign government entering the United States on official law enforcement business.” The shooter used a loophole to legally purchase his weapon from a dealer in Pensacola.


Non-citizens with hunting licenses can also buy firearms, and Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani apparently had such a license. However, only members of “military security forces” are allowed to bring weapons to reduce the risk of accidental shootings and suicides. Hence, it’s unknown how the Saudi terrorist managed to smuggle the gun into the military base and opened fire on his classmates.

US Pensacola Naval Military Base - Aircraft Carrier

The base outside Pensacola, near Florida’s border with Alabama, is a major training site for the Navy and employs about 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel. Clearly, it provides an excellent target for radicalized Islamic terrorists like Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, who passed the screening for drug trafficking, corruption and criminal conduct.


If it’s true that he was self-radicalized, the attack on the Pensacola Naval Air Station is more worrying than earlier thought. He could at least be flagged if was linked to some sort of terror groups. A terrorist who quietly self-radicalized means the U.S. military intelligence will not know if there is some walking time bomb among the 852 Saudis attending trainings in the U.S.


The New York Times reports that Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani and his three fellow Saudi students traveled from Pensacola to New York last week, where they visited several museums and are thought to have watched the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Investigators want to know if they met with anyone while visiting New York.

US Pensacola Naval Military Base Terrorist Attack - Florida Map

There were also reports that the FBI is actively hunting for some missing Saudi students in Florida. Therefore, it’s too early for Donald Trump to unwisely assure the people that the relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia will be business as usual. Driven by oil, money and weapons sales, Trump has created a perception of immunity for Saudi even before a proper investigation can be completed.


More importantly, the shooting means the military superpower United States has its loophole and vulnerability. Its navy base can be attacked from within by foreign military students who are disillusioned or disagreed with the U.S. foreign policies. Imagine what could have happened if Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani was a suicide bomber and managed to bring in a suicide vest into the classroom.


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American should be watching their back yard and their “friends” instead of interfering in China own effort in solving problems in Xinjiang. American can’t solved their own problems, and they want to dictate how China should solve theirs.

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