The US will deport over a dozen Saudi military personnel training at military bases from the country, following the shooting rampage last month at the Pensacola naval air station in Florida by a Saudi Air Force officer which killed three US sailors and injured eight other people.
A Pentagon review found that the military trainees did not aid the gunman Mohammed Al-Shamrani but are accused of having extremist links and possessing child pornography.
“In the wake of the Pensacola tragedy, the Department of Defense restricted to classroom training programs foreign military students from Saudi Arabia while we conducted a review and enhancement of our foreign student vetting procedures.”
“That training pause is still in place while we implement new screening and security measures,” Defence Department spokesman Lt. Col. Robert Carver told CNN.
The Justice Department is expected to conclude that the Pensacola shooting was in fact an act of terrorism, according to a US official.
Al-Shamrani was armed with a lawfully purchased Glock 9mm handgun, and is reported to have posted a manifesto on Twitter before the shooting, denouncing America as “a nation of evil”.
In the wake of the attack, Senator Rick Scott of Florida called for a full review of US military programs training foreign nationals on US soil. “We shouldn’t be providing military training to people who wish to harm us,” Scott wrote on Twitter.
Some 5,000 foreign military personnel are undergoing training in the US, including approximately 850 Saudis.