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Here's Everything We Know About the Saudi National Who Killed 3 at the Pensacola Navy Base

He hosted a dinner party where he showed mass shooting videos and has been infuriated when an instructor called him "Porn Stash."

by David Gilbert
Dec 9 2019, 2:49pm

AP Photo/Cliff Owen

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The Saudi Air Force second lieutenant who shot and killed three sailors at the Pensacola Naval Air Station Friday reportedly hosted a dinner party the night before where he showed mass-shooting videos. He also spewed anti-U.S. rhetoric on Twitter moments before opening fire and had been infuriated when an instructor had given him the nickname “Porn Stash."

A fuller picture of the 21-year-old pilot-in-training, Mohammed Alshamrani, emerged over the weekend. And the FBI continues to interview anyone at the airbase who may have had contact with the gunman, who was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy during the attack.

The shooter had been in the U.S. since 2017, when he began training with the United States military as part of an established program linked to the sale of U.S. military equipment to the Kingdom and funded by the Saudi government. He was scheduled to complete the training in August 2020, according to the Pentagon. The FBI said Sunday that it was investigating the attack as an act of terrorism and is seeking to establish if the trainee acted alone.

“Did he act alone or was he part of a larger network?” Rachel Rojas, the FBI agent in charge of the investigation, said during a press conference Sunday. “As we speak, members of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and Counterterrorism Division are working tirelessly to discern any possible ideology that may have been a factor in this attack.

The shooter opened fire early Friday morning in a classroom, killing three aviation students: 19-year-old airman Mohammed Sameh Hathaim; 23-year-old ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, and 21-year-old airman apprentice Cameron Scott Walters. Eight others were wounded in the fight with the shooter. His weapon, a Glock 9mm, had been obtained legally.

One possible motive emerged Sunday evening, when an official told AP that the gunman had posted messages on Twitter quoting Osama bin Laden, blasting U.S. support of Israel, and accusing America of being anti-Muslim.

Friends and colleagues reported that the attacker had become more religious since returning to the U.S. in February, according to officials involved in the investigation.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Sunday at a press conference that the gunman had “a major social media trail” and called for more stringent security measures. “This guy was somebody who just had a deep-seated hatred for the United States and that was pretty clear from that,” he said.

READ: The Pensacola Navy Base Shooter Was a Member of the Saudi Air Force in the U.S. for Training

The gunman also reportedly hosted a dinner party Thursday night for three other Saudi trainees where he played videos of other mass-shootings, according to an official briefed on the investigation who spoke to the New York Times.

Officials also told the Times that one Saudi trainee was filming the building where the attack took place, while two others watched from a car nearby. Pentagon officials said several of the shooter's friends who were filming the incident were detained and questioned during the investigation.

Days before the shooting, the gunman and three other Saudi military trainees had visited New York, spending four days visiting attractions including Rockefeller Center. While there's no indication that the visit was anything more than a sightseeing trip, the FBI has dozens of agents currently trying to establish exactly what the shooter did during his time in the city.

In April, the attacker filed a formal complaint against one of his instructors, who gave him the nickname “Porn Stash” in an apparent reference to the mustache of a porn star.

“I was infuriated as to why he would say that in front of the class,” the Saudi trainee wrote in his complaint, according to a copy seen by the New York Times. However, officials say it’s unlikely that the classroom incident is linked to Friday’s shooting.

READ: UN: “Credible Evidence” Saudi Crown Prince Was Involved in Khashoggi Execution

The 21-year-old attacker initially attended language school at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, and spent breaks at home in Saudi Arabia. He was one of more than 850 Saudis who are in the United States for various training activities. In total, there are more than 5,000 foreign students from 153 countries completing military training in the U.S.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper ordered a review of the screening process for foreign military sent to the United States for training. Esper told Fox News Sunday he had instructed top defense officials to look into security measures at bases.

Cover: An Air Force carry team moves a transfer case containing the remains of Navy Ensign Joshua Watson on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. A Saudi gunman killed three people including 23-year-old Watson, a recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy from Enterprise, Ala., in a shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

Tagged:
terrorism
Florida
FBI
Saudi Arabia
Pensacola
Navy base
Pensacola Naval Air Station
Saudi national
Mohammed Alshamrani