Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a second lieutenant in the Saudi Air Force who was in the US as an aviation student, shot up the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, killing three and wounding eight more and acquired the weapon he used legally from a local dealer despite the fact that “nonimmigrant aliens” are not permitted to do so, according to NBC News.
The BATF notes that anyone admitted to the US under a nonimmigrant visa is typically “prohibited from shipping, transporting, receiving, or possessing a firearm or ammunition,” however, those with a valid hunting license or permit, and those who were admitted for “lawful hunting or sporting purposes” are able to purchase firearms.
Alshamrani was able to get such a license, according to sources cited by NBC, allowing him to undergo a background check, which in Florida involves a three-day waiting period, per state law.
The Washington Post further notes that another ATF regulation allows non-citizens to possess firearms if they’re from “a friendly foreign government entering the United States on official law enforcement business.”
The development is even more remarkable given that the shooter had a twitter page that reportedly featured anti-American posts and glorified quotes from Osama Bin Laden, according to The SITE Intel Group.
Alshamrani had even gone on Twitter shortly before the shooting to blast U.S. support of Israel and accuse America of being anti-Muslim, a U.S. official said 2 days after the attack as the FBI confirmed it is operating on the assumption the attack was an act of terrorism.
Alshamrani was killed by a sheriff’s deputy during the rampage at a classroom building where members of foreign militaries routinely receive instruction.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the gunman had a social media trail and a “deep-seated hatred of the United States.”
Earlier in the week of the shooting, Alshamrani hosted a dinner party where he and three others watched videos of mass shootings, another U.S. official told the AP on Saturday.
Family members and others identified the three dead as Joshua Kaleb Watson, a 23-year-old graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy; Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, 19, of St. Petersburg, Florida, who joined the Navy after graduating from high school last year; and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters, 21, of Richmond Hill, Georgia.
One of the victims, Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, a recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, acted heroically by making it outside the air station and informing the first response team where the shooter was, despite being gravely injured by at least five gunshots.
Ensign Watson, who would have gone on to be a military jet pilot, later died from the injuries, yet has been credited with saving countless lives with his actions.
Watson and two other sailors, Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters are said to have run toward the danger in an effort to save colleagues and friends.
One of the three students who attended the dinner party hosted by the attacker recorded video outside the classroom building while the shooting was taking place. Two other Saudi students watched from a car, the official said.
The FBI confirmed that it had obtained base surveillance videos as well as cellphone footage taken by a bystander outside the building, and had also interviewed that person.
Meanwhile, the daily Saudi newspaper Okaz published an interview with Othman Alshamrani, a man it described as an extended family member of the shooting suspect from his hometown in the kingdom’s Asir province. “This individual act does not represent us, nor his family nor his tribe,” the relative said, adding that the slain man was from a family with members who have well served their nation in military posts.
The investigation into a deadly shooting at a Pensacola military base resulted in the expulsion of 21 Saudi nationals who were military students over jihadi literature, definitive ties to terrorism, and child porn found on their computers.
Attorney General Bill Barr told reporters in a media briefing, about 6 weeks after the attack, that the military students were found to have posted jihadist messages on social media, while others had contact with child pornography.
The FBI found that the assailant had posted messages ahead of the attack that could have served as a warning. One message read “The countdown has begun,” on the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. – READ MORE
The Justice Department’s decision to expel the Saudis from the United States instead of indicting them for alleged ties to terrorism and child pornography was essentially a ‘get out of jail free’ card according to the FBI who investigated the accused.
“A disgrace,” one FBI insider said, referring to the DOJ’s handling of the case. “The DOD (Dept of Defense) is also a disgrace because this group was running wild and no one was watching them.”