Saudi withdraw 21 cadets from the U.S., following Florida killings

Saudi Arabia is going to call back 21 cadets pursuing military training in the United States following a U.S. investigation which accused a Saudi officer of barbarically shooting three Americans at a Florida naval base. William Barr, the U.S. Attorney General on Monday referred it as an act of terrorism.

“Act of terrorism”

The attack on December 6 further convoluted the relations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Amidst the time of escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran, which is a regional rival of Saudi Arabia, a deputy sheriff shot dead the gunman, Saudi Air Force Second Lieutenant Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, in the Pensacola, Florida, incident.

Barr has provided details about Alshamrani’s actions that were previously undisclosed before the shooting.

Barr stated 21 cadets from Saudi were “disenrolled from their training curriculum” in the U.S. military. They left the United States later on Monday after an investigation indicated they were either having child pornography or social media accounts with Islamic extremist or anti-American content.

The U.S. didn’t terminate the cadets

He pointed out, Saudi Arabia had withdrawn the cadets rather than the United States formally terminating their training, and stated that the Saudi authorities told him they would think of filing criminal charges against them. A Justice Department official said, U.S. officials have agreed with the decision to send the cadets back to Saudi.

During a news conference, Barr – the top U.S. law enforcement official – said no evidence was found regarding the Saudi trainees assisting Alshamrani or that any of them had any idea in advance of the attack.

Eight people were wounded whereas three American sailors lost their lives in the attack at the Pensacola Naval Air Station.

“This was an act of terrorism,” Barr said. “The evidence showed that the shooter was motivated by jihadist ideology. During the course of the investigation, we learned that the shooter posted a message on Sept. 11 of this year stating, ‘The countdown has begun.’”

Barr also pointed out that Alshamrani had visited the memorial present in New York City, which is dedicated to the victims of attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. The attack was carried out by Saudi hijackers belonging to the Islamist militant group al Qaeda. Moreover, Alshamrani also posted anti-American, anti-Israeli and jihadi posts on social media, only two hours before the attack.

Apple Inc has not proven itself helpful in working with the FBI to unlock two cellphones belonging to Alshamrani, Barr said. He claimed the FBI majorly put its efforts to unlock the phone. In a statement, Apple declined the statement that it had not substantially helped in the investigation.

 The company stated it had reciprocated quickly to multiple requests from the FBI for information beginning on the day of the attack, providing “many gigabytes of information” to the investigators.

Saudi Arabia will cooperate in the Investigation

“However, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia determined that this material demonstrated conduct unbecoming an officer in the Royal Saudi Air Force and in the Royal Navy,” Barr stated.

Saudi Arabia provided “complete and total support” in the U.S. investigation regarding counterterrorism and ordered every Saudi trainee to cooperate, Barr said, adding that the kingdom had assured that it would cooperate for the trial of any of the 21 cadets if U.S. prosecutors choose to charge them in relation with this counterterrorism investigation.

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