Shocking revelations have emerged in the aftermath of the shooting at a Florida Naval base by a Saudi military student Mohammed al-Shamrani. One of the surprises was that three other Saudi students filmed the entire attack.
A total of six Saudis have been detained over the shooting, in which four persons were killed, including al-Shamrani. Eight others were wounded in the shooting which took place in a classroom building at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida. Among the wounded were two sheriff’s deputies who responded to the attack.
According to the New York Times, the Saudi gunman was armed with a Glock 9mm handgun that had been purchased locally. The gun had an extended magazine and the shooter had four to six other magazines in his possession before he was himself gunned down by Florida policemen.
Al-Shamrani reportedly condemned America as a “nation of evil” in an online manifesto prior to opening fire Friday at a US naval base, killing three people before being shot dead by police.
The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist media, said he had posted a short manifesto on Twitter that read: “I’m against evil, and America as a whole has turned into a nation of evil.”
“I’m not against you for just being American, I don’t hate you because your freedoms, I hate you because every day you supporting, funding and committing crimes not only against Muslims but also humanity,” he wrote.
ABC News reported that investigators were working to determine if it was in fact written by the shooter.
The Twitter account that posted the manifesto — which also condemned US support for Israel and included a quote from Al-Qaeda’s deceased leader, the Saudi Osama bin Laden — has been suspended.
DeSantis told a news conference that “the government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for these victims. And I think they are going to owe a debt here given that this is one of their individuals.”
Commanding officer Captain Timothy Kinsella said the shooter was an aviation trainee, one of “a couple hundred” foreign students at the base.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman telephoned US President Donald Trump to denounce the shooting, affirming that “the perpetrator of this heinous crime does not represent the Saudi people,” according to the official Saudi Press Agency.
Saudi Arabia has long been a major US ally in the Middle East, thanks primarily to security considerations and oil.
Trump said King Salman “called to express his sincere condolences and give his sympathies to the families and friends of the warriors who were killed and wounded in the attack that took place in Pensacola, Florida.”
There was a deja vu about the Florida attack. Shamrani shares the nationality of 15 of the 19 men involved in the 9/11 attacks, some of whom attended civilian flight school in Florida.
Police were first called about the shooting shortly before 7:00 am (1200 GMT), Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said.
“Walking through the crime scene was like being on the set of a movie,” Morgan said. “You don’t expect this to happen.”
Only members of the security forces can bring weapons on base, Kinsella said, and it was not clear how the shooter got the gun onto the premises.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said he is “considering several steps to ensure the security of our military installations and the safety of our service members and their families,” but did not provide details.
Just two days earlier, a US sailor fatally shot two people and wounded a third at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii before taking his own life.
“This has been a devastating week for our Navy family,” Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday said. “When tragedy hits, as it did today, and Wednesday in Pearl Harbor, it is felt by all.”
The Pensacola naval air station hosts 16,000 military personnel and more than 7,000 civilians, and is home to a flight demonstration squadron.
It is an early training centre for naval pilots, and is known as the “cradle of naval aviation.”
The base is the centre for the US Navy foreign military training programs, established in 1985 specifically for Saudi students before being expanded to other nationalities.