Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Families of victims of an attack carried out by a Saudi officer at a US base are suing Saudi Arabia


Families of victims of American soldiers who were shot dead by a Saudi lieutenant in Florida in 2019 file a lawsuit against Saudi Arabia.

  • A photo distributed by the FBI shows a tape that authorities placed along the street after the shooting at the military base in Florida

Families of American soldiers who were shot dead by a Saudi lieutenant at a military base in Florida have filed a lawsuit against the kingdom over its alleged responsibility for the attack.

Lawyers for the families explained that their clients believed it was not possible that Saudi Arabia did not know that Lieutenant Muhammad al-Shamrani was an extremist.

On December 6, 2019, this 21-year-old trained officer fired a pistol at American soldiers during a semester at the US Naval Base in Pensacola, killing three people and wounding eight others before he was killed by police bullets.

The lawyers said in a statement that Al-Shamrani “was supposed to undergo a thorough investigation when he joined the Saudi Royal Air Force, and that day, Saudi Arabia was aware of his extremism and his anti-Americanism, feelings that were publicly expressed on an account in his name on Twitter.”

The statement pointed out that “this account was followed by Saudi citizens, members of the government, and members of the air force, and that they read and commented on the extremist messages that this soldier posted.”

In their statement, the lawyers stressed that “this officer, despite his letters, was chosen from among hundreds of Military Academy students to obtain a scholarship to participate in a training course in the United States, and his nomination was sent to the chain of command at the Saudi Ministry of Defense.”

The lawyers also considered that King Salman bin Abdulaziz and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, “refused to fulfill their promise” to the families of the victims, after former US President Donald Trump reassured these families that they would “take care” of them.

Bin Salman said his country is keen on “absolute cooperation” with the US authorities investigating the attack.

The Kingdom had confirmed its condemnation of the “heinous crime” committed by Al-Shamrani, but the FBI concluded that the Saudi military had become an extremist since at least 2015 and that his attack was “the result of years of planning and preparation.”

The attack was claimed by the “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” organization, which remained in contact with Al-Shamrani until the eve of the attack.

US Attorney General William Bar announced in May 2020 that Al-Shamrani had strong ties to al-Qaeda before he arrived in the United States.

Following the attack, the United States expelled from its territory 21 Saudi soldiers, a trainee, after an investigation revealed that they had posted “offensive” or “terrorist or anti-American content” on social media networks, or were found in their possession of pornographic materials that included the sexual exploitation of children.





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