The Pensacola Shooting May Complicate US-Saudi Arabia Relationship

The Pensacola Shooting May Complicate US-Saudi Arabia Relationship
Mohammed Alshamrani in Pensacola shooting

While the F.B.I authorities predict the fatal shooting of three at Pensacola, Florida, naval base, on Friday has an act of terrorism, it is yet to declare the official motive of the shooting.

A member of the Saudi Air force armed with a gun fatally shot three people and injured eight others on Friday during a bloody rampage in a classroom building at the prestigious naval base building in Pensacola where the shooter was training to be a pilot.

Special Agent Racheal Rojas said the F.B.I authorities were trying to determine if he had acted alone or had connections to a group.

A United States military official identified the suspect who was later killed by Sheriff’s Deputy during the attack as Mohammed Alshamrani a Second Lieutenant in the Saudi Air Force. He was one of the hundreds of military trainees in the base. He had purchased the gun early this year from a gun store, obtained a gun license which allows a non-immigrant to purchase a gun. The source said. Alshamrani used a Glock 9mm pistol he bought “legally and lawfully”

Investigators are trying to determine what motivated Alshamrani to deliberately open fire in a classroom. Quoting Rojas “the presumption that this was an act of terrorism” as they do in most their similar allows “investigative techniques that can help” more quickly identify and eliminate the potential threat”

However, it has been reported in a U.S media that Alshamrani played mass shooting videos to others at a dinner earlier in the week. A twitter user appearing to match Alshramani’s identity also made a series of anti-U.S posts before the shooting.

Three U.S naval sailors were killed after the gunman opened fire at the base. The sailors were Airman Mohammed Semah Haithman,19, Airman Apprentice Cameron Scotts Walters, 21, and Ensign Joshua Caleb Watson,23.

The Pensacola base has long offered aviation training to foreign military forces. Saudi military personnel started training in the base in 1995.

The attack by a foreign national inside an American military installation raised more questions about the vetting process for international students who were cleared by the Department of Defense.

In this tense moment when Prince Mohammed is preparing to assume the presidency of the G20, which summit is to be held next year, coupled with the kingdom disastrous military campaign in Yemen and the killing of a Saudi dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi. Also, for a president who largely sees Foreign policy in transnational terms. Saudi Arabia has been a great customer to the U.S Billions of Dollars in weapon sales, which translates to more than 5,000 temporary visas being issued to Saudi military personnel to come train in the United States. One might begin to wonder whether President Trump might play down the significance of the Pensacola shooting, or if the incident would affect the long standing relationship between Washington and Riyadh. A long-standing relationship that many critics suspect to be increasingly dubious.

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