Attorney General William Barr announced Monday that last month’s deadly shooting at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida has been ruled “an act of terrorism” that was “motivated by jihadist ideology.”
Barr also told reporters at a news conference at the Justice Department that 21 members of the Saudi Royal Air Force and Royal Navy enrolled in flight training in Pensacola were found to have “derogatory information” in their possession and have been removed from the school.
They were scheduled to return to Saudi Arabia on Monday.
“On Dec. 6, 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a member of the Royal Saudi Air Force, entered a building on the grounds of Pensacola Naval Air Station and killed three U.S. sailors and severely wounded eight other Americans,” Barr said. “Alshamrani was killed during the attack.”
“This was an act of terrorism,” the attorney general said. “The evidence shows that the shooter was motivated by jihadist ideology.”
AG William Barr says the shooting at Pensacola Naval Air Station by a Saudi national was “an act of terrorism” and the shooter was “motivated by jihadist ideology” https://t.co/b3LRFp18sG pic.twitter.com/d2Pyt6Zo5O
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 13, 2020
As evidence of Alshamrani’s motivation, Barr said the shooter posted a message on social media last Sept. 11 that said: “the countdown has begun.”
Over Thanksgiving, he visited the 9/11 Memorial in New York City.
“He also posted other anti-American, anti-Israeli, and jihadi messages on social media, and did so two hours before his attack at the naval base,” Barr said.
The attorney general explained that contrary to early media accounts, Alshamrani did not arrive at the site of the shooting with other Saudi cadets, but came alone.
“Other Saudi cadets happened to be in the area and, after the attack began, they took some videos of the resulting commotion,” Barr said. “They fully cooperated in the investigation, as did the other Saudi cadets who were interviewed by the FBI at Pensacola and at additional bases across the country.”
Barr commended the Saudi government for completely cooperating with the investigation and directing the trainees in the U.S. to do the same.
More than 20 Saudi students are expected to be expelled from the U.S. amid an ongoing investigation into the Saudi military officer who killed three sailors and wounded eight others at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola last month, official tells ABC News. https://t.co/R78oG8Lwrl
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) January 13, 2020
Of the 21 cadets ordered by their government to return to Saudi Arabia, 17 had social media containing “some jihadi or anti-American content,” the attorney general said.
Additionally, “15 individuals (including some of the 17 just mentioned) had had some kind of contact with child pornography,” Barr said in his statement.
He also said the FBI recovered two Apple iPhones from the shooter and obtained a warrant to access them, but has not been able to without the passwords.
“So far Apple has not given us any substantive assistance,” Barr said. “This situation perfectly illustrates why it is critical that investigators be able to get access to digital evidence once they have obtained a court order based on probable cause.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.