US Military Will Resume Training for Saudi Students Soon

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
January 17, 2020US News
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US Military Will Resume Training for Saudi Students Soon
A general view of the Pensacola Naval Air Station entrance following a shooting in Pensacola, Fla., on Dec. 6, 2019. (Josh Brasted/Getty Images)

The Pentagon has announced it will resume flight and field training with Saudi students soon, which were put on hold after a Saudi trainee gunned down three sailors at NAS Pensacola on Dec. 6.

“We’re looking forward to turning that [training] back on in the coming days. … We should have an announcement for you soon,” chief Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman told reporters on Thursday, The Hill reported.

Hoffman also announced that the foreign students vetting program had been upgraded and now include “physical security features” at U.S. bases. Under the new procedure, the Pentagon will take the lead in the screeing and will combine data provided by the Department of Homeland Security and State Department and from background checks done in the students’ homeland as well, Hoffman said.

Since the shooting, some 850 Saudi students had been grounded in a safety-standdown, and training sessions were limited to the classroom, where the attack took part six weeks ago.

NTD Photo
Attorney General, William Barr (C), and FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich (L) hold a press conference, regarding the December 2019 shooting at the Pensacola Naval air station in Florida, at the Department of Justice in Washington, on Jan. 13, 2020. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Attorney General William Barr announced that nationwide 21 Saudi students would be dismissed after, during the investigation, child pornography, or content of anti–U.S. or jihadist nature was found on their computers or social media, The New York Times reported.

Twelve of those sent home were trained at NAS Pensacola. However, the investigators found no proof of any of them being related to the Dec. 6 shooting.

The shooting happened on Dec. 6 in a classroom building at Naval Air Station Pensacola. The suspect identified as Mohamed Saeed Alshamrani shot and killed three people and wounded eight more before he was killed.

In the week leading up to the shooting the killer, Mohammed Alshamrani hosted a dinner party, where he and three others watched videos of mass shootings, a U.S. official told AP.

One of the three students who attended the dinner party videotaped from outside the building while the shooting was taking place, said a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity after being briefed by federal authorities. Two other Saudi students watched from a car, the official said.

Nonetheless, the Pentagon task force in December said it found “no information indicating an immediate threat,” after it had vetted all Saudi military students in the United States, ABC News reported.

After the Dec. 6 attack, Defense Secretary Mark Esper mandated a stricter review of background checks of International Military Students (IMS).

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Mohammed Alshamrani, the Saudi student who opened fire inside a classroom at Naval Air Station Pensacola, on Dec. 6, 2019, before one of the deputies killed him. (FBI via AP)

Alshamrani, a Saudi national, was in the United States for flight training, law enforcement sources told ABC and other news outlets. The Associated Press reported that he was an aviation student.

The Associated Press and Epoch Times reporter Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

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