Published: Sun, December 08, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Pensacola naval base shooter watched shooting videos before attack

Pensacola naval base shooter watched shooting videos before attack

Investigators have found no sign Alshamrani had links to worldwide terrorist groups and think he may have radicalized on his own, the New York Times reported, citing an unidentified United States official. The official wasn't authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The official, who asked not to be named, also said the Federal Bureau of Investigation is examining social media posts and investigating whether the attacker acted alone or was connected to any broader group.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the suspect was a Saudi national attending training at the base as part of long-standing programme open to U.S. allies. SITE Intelligence Group found the short manifesto on Twitter, in which the shooter claimed America is "a nation of evil" and criticized USA support for Israel.

Earlier Friday, two USA officials identified the student as a second lieutenant in the Saudi Air Force. Trump tweeted his condolences to the families of the victims and noted that he had received a phone call from Saudi King Salman. "He's wanted to be in the military since he was 5 years old", his father said.

The United States has long had a robust training program for Saudis, providing assistance in the United States and in Saudi Arabia.

"I also talked about our team looking at the measures we have in place to ensure proper vetting and screening of foreign students as they come to our country to make sure we understand we have a good handle on who they are and that they've been properly screened", he added. Many families also live there, said retired Rear Adm. John Kirby, CNN's military and diplomatic analyst, who was once stationed there.

"I grabbed him and would not let go of him", she said. "We'll start that immediately".

Speaking at the Ronald Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, on Saturday, Esper and others downplayed any initial impact on US-Saudi ties.

"Saudi Arabia has long sent people to northwest Florida for this goal, and many of them have gone on to work right alongside our warfighters in the Middle East and the world", he said.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said during a public appearance on Saturday he was not ready to label it an act of terrorism. The shooting, however, shined a spotlight on the two countries' sometimes rocky relationship.

President Trump has maintained close relations with Saudi leaders despite the killing of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who wrote a column for the Washington Post newspaper, in the country's consulate in Turkey in October 2018.

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U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) has called for increased random security checks at all sites across Northern Command following the deadly shootings at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii and Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola in Florida. It sprawls along the waterfront southwest of the city's downtown and dominates the economy of the surrounding area.

A shooting at a USA military base in Florida by a Saudi military student has prompted questions about how the US government scrutinizes candidates for military exchange programs as the Pentagon highlighted the layers of screening already in place.

This photo taken from video provided by WEAR-TV shows emergency responders near the Naval Air Base Station in Pensacola, Fla., Dec. 6, 2019.

Investigators and base commanders provided few details about the incident at a morning news conference, declining to answer any questions about the shooter's identity or the weapon used in the attack, which played out over two floors in classroom building at a base whose main function is training.

Residents of Pensacola mourned the attacks and offered their condolences to affected members of the community.

Joshua, who is originally from Enterprise, Alabama, was a recent graduate of the US Naval Academy where he served as a wrestling coach and captain of the school's rifle team.

This photo taken from video provided by WEAR-TV shows emergency responders near the Naval Air Base Station in Pensacola, Fla., on December 6, 2019. "He died a hero and we are beyond proud".

A second victim was identified as Mohammed "Mo" Haitham, 19, of St. Petersburg, Florida, who joined the Navy after graduating from high school past year, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

"These acts are crimes against all of us", he said.

The Pentagon's Security Assistance Management Manual that lays out guidelines for security assistance to foreign countries states that if a potential student's "reputable character or physical condition can not be validated, the individual must not be approved for training". "Now that's not going to happen". The shooting occurred in a classroom building, Kinsella said.

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