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Families of US naval base attack victims sue Saudi Arabia

PENSACOLA, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 06: A general view of the atmosphere at the Pensacola Naval Air Station following a shooting on December 06, 2019 in Pensacola, Florida. The second shooting on a U.S. Naval Base in a week has left three dead plus the suspect and seven people wounded. (Photo by Josh Brasted/Getty Images)
A general view of the atmosphere at the Pensacola Naval Air Station following a shooting on December 06, 2019 in Pensacola, Florida. The second shooting on a U.S. Naval Base in a week has left three dead plus the suspect and seven people wounded [Josh Brasted/Getty Images]

The families of three men killed in the attack at a US naval base have sued Saudi Arabia, claiming that Riyadh was aware of the shooter's radical views and his links with Al-Qaeda.

In the attack on 6 December 2019 on the US Naval Air Station Pensacola, located in the westernmost city in the state of Florida, three naval servicemen were killed by Saudi Royal Saudi Air Force member Mohammed Alshamrani before he was killed.

Now, nine months after it was discovered that Alshamrani was in contact with Al-Qaeda operatives prior to the attack which they planned, the deceased US sailors' families and 13 other service members who were wounded have filed a lawsuit against the Saudi government.

According to the lawsuit, it was impossible that the Saudi government could not have known about his extremist views which "were publicly associated with a Twitter account bearing his name" both before and after he joined the Saudi air force.

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On his social media accounts, the lawsuit stated, "Alshamrani regularly posted radical fundamental ideology…including anti-American and anti-Jewish ideology, and encouraged others to post radical Islamic sentiments." Furthermore, his accounts were reportedly also followed and commented on by his colleagues and government officials.

It also argued that as part of a small group of Saudi students who were sent to study in the US, he and the others must have been rigorously vetted and screened by the kingdom's authorities in order to be accepted. That was especially the case as the authorities would be able to monitor the phones and devices of those deemed to be potential risks to security.

Therefore, according to the signatories of the lawsuit, the Saudi government was complicit in an "act of international terrorism," meaning that it is not liable to protection from lawsuits by the US Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act.

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