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13 Jan, 2020 19:15

Pensacola Naval Air Station shooting by Saudi student was act of terrorism motivated by jihadist ideology - AG Barr

Pensacola Naval Air Station shooting by Saudi student was act of terrorism motivated by jihadist ideology - AG Barr

The December shooting by 21-year-old Saudi military student Mohammed Alshamrani at Naval Air Station Pensacola that killed three people was an act of terrorism, US Attorney General William Barr has confirmed.

The shooting was an “act of terror” that was “motivated by jihadist ideology,” Barr told reporters on Monday at a press conference, adding that Alshamrani is believed to have acted alone.

Also on rt.com FBI confirms identity of Pensacola shooter, US Navy says slain sailors confronted him before demise (PHOTO)

Alshamrani visited the 9/11 memorial during the Thanksgiving holiday after posting a cryptic message on September 11 stating that the “countdown” had begun, Barr revealed.

Following an exhaustive investigation, the US will return 21 Saudi military students to their home country later on Monday. After the probe turned up “derogatory material” on the 21 cadets’ computers, in addition to “jihadi or anti-American content” on 17 of them and “some kind of contact with child pornography” on 15, the Saudi government “determined that this material demonstrated conduct unbecoming an officer in the Royal Saudi Air Force and in the Royal Navy.” However, none of the material would result in criminal prosecution on its own under US law, Barr clarified.

Barr praised the actions of two US Marines who attempted to stop Alshamrani, as well as a navy airman shot five times by the gunman who helped others escape the hail of bullets and the Saudi government, which gave “complete and total support” to the investigation.

While Alshamrani was not inspired by or working with any particular group, his social media posts showed he harbored “anti-US military and anti-Israel sentiment” and believed “violence was necessary to defend Muslim countries,” deputy FBI director David Bowdich told reporters. Some of his statements echoed those of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American cleric killed in a drone strike in Yemen, he added.

Barr took time to excoriate Apple for refusing to unlock the shooter’s phones despite a court order, returning to an anti-encryption theme that has frequently surfaced in the AG’s public statements.

Alshamrani, a second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force, killed three people and wounded eight at the naval base before he was himself killed in a shootout with Escambia County Sheriff’s deputies on December 6. Barr dispelled early reports that Alshamrani had arrived at the base with colleagues who filmed the violence.

Also on rt.com Nearly 175 Saudi aviation students grounded after Pensacola base shooting

The US trains Saudi military students on American soil, with some 850 personnel reported to be in the country when the Pensacola shooting resulted in a temporary suspension of their military training. The tragedy has elicited a call for stricter vetting of all foreign military personnel who receive permission to train in the US from Pentagon chief Mark Esper.

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