- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 8, 2019

The killing of three U.S. sailors by a Saudi Royal Air Force lieutenant studying at the U.S. Naval Air Station Pensacola “appears” to have been a terrorist attack, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said Sunday.

“I don’t want to prejudge the investigation, but it appears that this may be someone that was radicalized, whether it was here or it’s unclear if he’s got any other ties to other organizations,” Mr. O’Brien said in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

While he added that he has not seen evidence the shooting was part of a broader plot, Mr. O’Brien said the shooter “may very well have, have said some things on Twitter that suggest he was radicalized.”

“He went out and, and killed a number of Americans,” the national security adviser said. “So, my point is it looks like terrorism. We’ll have to see what the FBI investigation shows, what his motivations were.”

Mr. O’Brien added that the Saudi government has “promised full cooperation with the investigation [and] we’re going to take them at their word.”

The comments came a day after other authorities revealed that 10 Saudi students were being held on the Pensacola base Saturday, while several others were unaccounted for, according The Associated Press.

The FBI has identified the shooter as Mohammed Alshamrani, a 21-year-old 2nd Lt. in the Royal Saudi Air Force and a visiting student at the Pensacola base’s Naval Aviation Schools Command. The bureau is reported to still be examining social media posts and investigating whether Mr. Alshamrani acted alone or was connected to a broader group.

A U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity told The Associated Press the shooter hosted a dinner party earlier last week where he and three others watched videos of mass shootings. The official said one of the three who attended the dinner party later recorded video outside the classroom building where Friday’s shooting occurred while two other Saudi students watched the shooting from a car.

The U.S. has long had a robust training program for Saudis, providing assistance in the U.S. and in the kingdom. Currently, more than 850 Saudis are in the United States for various training activities. They are among more than 5,000 foreign students from 153 countries in the U.S. going through military training.

In the wake of Friday’s attack, President Trump has ordered review of policies governing foreign military training in the United States.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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