The day after a mass shooting that killed three at Pensacola Naval Base in Florida was allegedly carried out by a Saudi Arabian aviation student, the FBI questioned six other Saudi nationals. Three of those Saudis were observed filming the entire rampage, according to a New York Times report. Whether the Saudis questioned were involved in the mass shooting remains unconfirmed.
The FBI is investigating whether the shooting spree allegedly perpetrated by Saudi Air Force trainee Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani — who was killed at the scene by sheriff’s deputies in an exchange of gunfire — should be classified as an act of terrorism. Why the three Saudi nationals would have filmed the shooting remains unclear.
According to Twitter posts on an account believed to have been operated by Alshamrani, however, the alleged shooter’s motives were clearly anti-American.
“I’m against evil, and America as a whole has turned into a nation of evil,” the Twitter post read, as quoted by the Daily Mail newspaper. The Twitter “manifesto” attributed to Alshamrani went on to tell Americans that “I don’t hate you because your freedoms.”
Instead, the post said, the author of the post hated America because of the country’s “crimes not only against Muslims but also humanity.” The “manifesto” specifically singled out U.S. support of Israel as a motive for the author’s “hate” toward America.
As of Saturday morning, authorities were working to confirm whether the Twitter posts were actually written by the alleged mass shooter.
The alleged shooter carried out the rampage using a “Glock 45 9-millimeter handgun with an extended magazine” that had been purchased in the local Pensacola area, according to a source who spoke to The New York Times.
Shortly after the shooting, Donald Trump also posted on Twitter, claiming that he had received a call from Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, expressing “condolences” to the families of the alleged shooter’s victims, and saying that the Saudi people “are greatly angered” by the incident.
Trump wrote that the Saudi king reportedly told him the Saudis “love the American people.” But by late Saturday morning, there was no independent confirmation of the call from the Saudi king, or of its contents.
Trump has long been criticized for his steadfast support of the Saudi Arabian government and has “held fast against bipartisan congressional efforts to rebuke” him for that support, according to the New York Times report.
Trump has refused to condemn the de facto Saudi ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, over the brutal slaying of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by a Saudi assassination team last year, according to a Politico report. The CIA has concluded that bin Salman was directly involved in Khashoggi’s murder, but Trump issued an ambiguous statement in response to the intelligence agency’s conclusion.
“Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump said, in response to the conclusion on bin Salman’s involvement in the Khashoggi assassination.