clearn.png
Sunday February 28th, 2021 10:23PM

Suit blames Saudi Arabia for attack at Florida military base

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Victims of a 2019 shooting at a Florida military base and their families are suing Saudi Arabia, claiming the kingdom knew the gunman had been radicalized and that it could have prevented the killings.

The suit, filed Monday, also claims that Saudi trainees knew in advance about plans for the shooting but did nothing to stop it.

The suit centers on the Dec. 6, 2019, shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in which Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani shot and killed three U.S. sailors. It comes nine months after U.S. officials revealed that Alshamrani, a Saudi Air Force officer, had communicated with al-Qaida operatives about planning and tactics in the weeks leading up to the attack and that he had been radicalized abroad before coming to the U.S. to participate in a military training program.

The lawsuit casts a wide net of blame beyond Alshamrani. It alleges, for instance, that Saudi Arabia knew about Alshamrani's associations with al-Qaida and his radicalization and yet failed to monitor, supervise or report him. It also says the gunman told fellow Saudi trainees at a dinner party the night before the attack that he planned to carry out the shooting the following day, but instead of reporting it, they called out sick morning of the killings. One recorded the shootings while standing outside the building; two others watched from a car nearby.

“None of the Royal Saudi Air Force trainees at the scene of the attack reported Al-Shamrani’s behavior nor did they try to stop” it, the lawsuit says. “Because they supported it.”

The complaint also says Alshamrani's Saudi trainees were aware that he had purchased and stored firearms and ammunition in his barracks, and that he had posted and shared extremist material on social media and screened videos of mass shootings before the attack.

“Al-Shamrani was a Trojan Horse sent by his country, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and its proxy, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, for flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, under the auspices of a program tied to billions of dollars in military arms sales from the United States to the Kingdom,” the lawsuit states. “Little did the American people know that such an arrangement would soon devolve into a horrific, Faustian bargain.”

One month after the shooting, then-Attorney General William Barr announced that 21 Saudi trainees found to have had jihadist or anti-American sentiments on social media pages or “contact with child pornography” were being sent home.

The complaint seeks monetary damages against Saudi Arabia under an exemption of the law that allows for lawsuits against foreign countries arising from acts of terrorism. Though then-President Donald Trump told reporters that he had spoken with Saudi Arabia's king and that the kingdom would help the victims' families “very greatly,” the kingdom breached the agreement by failing to compensate or engage with them, according to the lawsuit.

The suit comes as the Biden administration has signaled a tougher stance on Saudi Arabia after a mostly cozy relationship for the last four years between Trump and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Earlier this month, President Joe Biden made good on a campaign commitment to end U.S. support for a five-year Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen. He made clear, however, that the U.S. would not completely abandon military assistance for the kingdom.

The lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of Florida on behalf of the families of the three who were killed and 13 others who were injured, including sheriff's deputies. A spokesperson for the Saudi embassy in Washington did not immediately return an email seeking comment Monday.

___

Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
US tops 500,000 virus deaths, matching the toll of 3 wars
The COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. has topped 500,000, all but matching the number of Americans killed in World War II, Korea and Vietnam combined
5:04PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Padres, Fernando Tatis Jr. sign 14-year 'statue contract'
Fernando Tatis Jr.‘s $340 million, 14-year contract has been finalized by the San Diego Padres, the longest deal in baseball history
5:03PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Cherokee chief: Time for Jeep to end use of tribe's name
The chief of the Cherokee Nation says it's time for auto maker Jeep to stop using the tribe's name on its Cherokee and Grand Cherokee models
4:56PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: FDA will allow short studies of virus variants
The Food and Drug Administration said Monday that it won’t require huge, months-long studies if COVID-19 vaccines eventually need tweaking to better match a mutating virus -- small, short studies will suffice
4:28PM ( 46 minutes ago )
Supreme Court won't halt turnover of Trump's tax records
In a significant defeat for former President Donald Trump, the Supreme Court has declined to step in to halt the turnover of his tax records to a New York state prosecutor
4:25PM ( 48 minutes ago )
Biden to mourn 500,000 dead while balancing grief and hope
President Joe Biden is marking the loss of 500,000 American lives to COVID-19
4:21PM ( 52 minutes ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
US tops 500,000 virus deaths, matching the toll of 3 wars
The COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. has topped 500,000, all but matching the number of Americans killed in World War II, Korea and Vietnam combined
5:04PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Cherokee chief: Time for Jeep to end use of tribe's name
The chief of the Cherokee Nation says it's time for auto maker Jeep to stop using the tribe's name on its Cherokee and Grand Cherokee models
4:56PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Guard killed, another wounded in stabbing at Indiana prison
Authorities say a correction officer at the Indiana State Prison was fatally stabbed and a second was hospitalized with stab wounds after an inmate allegedly attacked both officers at the prison
4:55PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Moet Hennessy buys 50% stake in Jay-Z's Champagne brand
Moet Hennessy is acquiring a 50% stake in rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z’s Champagne brand in an effort to up its cool factor and expand sales
4:48PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Key senators oppose Biden budget pick, confirmation at risk
Moderate Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah say they'll vote against confirming President Joe Biden’s nominee for budget director
4:47PM ( 26 minutes ago )