Six Saudi nationals have been detained in connection with the Friday shooting attack at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., after a Saudi military member was identified as the suspected shooter who killed three U.S. personnel.
The Saudi nationals were detained Friday near the scene of the shooting attack, including three involved in filming the incident, U.S. officials told the New York Times.
The suspected shooter was reportedly part of a training program in which the U.S. Navy hosted and instructed foreign military personnel. It is unknown if the six detained Saudis were also part of the training program, nor is it known if the three involved in the filming were connected to the gunman. Their names have not been released.
The shooting suspect, who was shot and killed by responding police, was identified as Second Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani. Alshamrani reportedly brought a Glock 45 9mm handgun and several spare magazines with him to carry out the shooting.
The news of detained Saudi nationals come amid reports that the shooter hosted a party to watch footage of past mass shootings.
The shooting attack has raised concerns about the vetting process used to allow thousands of foreign military personnel to receive training and access at military bases like NAS Pensacola. Several lawmakers have already called for the training exchange program to be suspended, pending a review of the training program and the safeguards used to barr individuals like Alshamrani.
“We shouldn’t be providing military training to people who wish us harm,” said Sen. Rick Scott, R-FL.
I’m very concerned that the shooter in Pensacola was a foreign national training on a US base.
Today, I’m calling for a full review of the US military programs to train foreign nationals on American soil. We shouldn’t be providing military training to people who wish us harm. pic.twitter.com/JkypdikYI9
— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) December 6, 2019
FBI agents handling the investigation are reportedly treating the shooting as a terrorist attack, but have yet to determine the exact motive of the shooting suspect or if he had any terror group connections.
A since deleted Twitter post from an account matching Alshamrani’s name did appear to post anti-Israel sentiments and quotes from deceased al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, in which he described the U.S. as being corrupted by evil, for supporting Israel. According to the New York Times, the authenticity of that Twitter account has not been established by investigating law enforcement officers.
Alshamrani previously clashed with an instructor in an incident seven months-prior to the shooting, according to New York Times. The instructor had called him “Porn Stash” in an apparent callsign reference to his moustache. He filed a complaint over the incident but investigators believe “appropriate personnel action,” following the incident.