WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia will withdraw 21 cadets who receive military training in the United States after an American investigation into the fatal shooting of a three-American Saudi officer at a Florida naval base that U.S. Attorney General William Barr He described Monday as an act of terrorism.
The December 6 attack further complicated relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia at a time of intense tensions between the United States and Iran, the regional rival of Saudi Arabia. A sheriff’s assistant shot dead the gunman, the second lieutenant of the Saudi Arabian Air Force, Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, in the Pensacola, Florida incident.
Barr provided previously undisclosed details about Alshamrani’s actions before the shooting.
Barr said 21 Saudi cadets were “discharged from their curriculum” in the US military. UU. And they would leave the United States later on Monday after an investigation showed they had child pornography or social media accounts that contained extremist or anti-American Islamic content.
Barr said it was Saudi Arabia who withdrew the cadets, rather than the United States formally expelling them, and said Saudi authorities told him they would consider filing criminal charges against them. A Justice Department official, who informed reporters on condition of anonymity, said US officials agreed with the decision to withdraw them.
During a press conference, Barr, the chief US police officer. UU., He said there was no evidence that Alshamrani received assistance from other Saudi trainees or that none of them had knowledge before the attack.
Three American sailors were killed and eight others were injured in the attack at the Pensacola Naval Air Station.
“This was an act of terrorism,” Barr said. “The evidence showed that the shooter was motivated by jihadist ideology. During the course of the investigation, we learned that the shooter posted a message on September 11 of this year that said: “The countdown has begun.”
Barr added that Alshamrani also visited the New York City Memorial to the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, carried out by Saudi kidnappers for the Islamist militant group Al Qaeda, and published anti-American messages and anti-israeli and jihadist messages on social networks, even two hours before the attack.
Apple Inc (AAPL.O) It has not been useful to date to work with the FBI to unlock both of Alshamrani’s cell phones, Barr said. He said the FBI had largely exhausted its own efforts to unlock the phone.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment. The company said earlier that it gave the FBI “all the data we have in our possession.”
Barr said one Saudi person had “a significant number” of images of child pornography, while another 14 “had one or two images, in most cases posted in another chat room by another person or received on social media. “. A total of 17, including Some of those who had images of child pornography had social media accounts that contained jihadist or anti-American content, Barr said.
The “derogatory information” did not meet the standard to trigger criminal charges in the United States, Barr said.
‘BEHAVIOR DEMIT AN OFFICIAL’
“However, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia determined that this material demonstrated improper conduct by an officer of the Royal Saudi Air Force and the Royal Navy,” Barr said.
Saudi Arabia gave “total and total support” in the US counter-terrorism investigation and ordered all Saudi Arabian apprentices to cooperate, Barr said, adding that the kingdom has ensured that it will return to trial at any of the 21 if prosecutors Americans decide to accuse him. them in relation to this anti-terrorism investigation.
The US military relationship UU. With Saudi Arabia, she was subjected to intensive scrutiny in the US Congress. UU. About the war in Yemen and the assassination of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia in 2018.
President Donald Trump has expressed doubts about a CIA assessment that Prince Mohammed ordered the murder of Khashoggi, an American resident and a critic of the crown prince, and argued that Washington should not risk its alliance with Riyadh, the cornerstone of the United States security policy in the Gulf and considered as a regional counterweight to Iran.
Pensacola’s attack led the Pentagon to suspend operational training for some 850 Saudi military personnel who visited as part of a “security strike” after the shooting. The Pentagon said on December 19 that it had not found “any information that indicated an immediate threat” after reviewing the Saudi visitors after the shooting.
Reports by Sarah N. Lynch, Mark Hosenball and Lisa Lambert; additional reports by Stephen Nellis; Written by Will Dunham; Edition by Andy Sullivan, Howard Goller and Sonya Hepinstall