Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Pensacola Gunman Changed After Trip to Native Saudi Arabia

American foreign policy continues to be based on the fiction that Saudi Arabia and the Saudi regime are "friends" and "allies" to the United States.  Historically, the fiction traces back to one word: Oil.   America may now be much more independent from reliance on Saudi oil than once the case - America is now among the largest producers - but the nation's foreign policy has not changed.  Worse yet, the fiction ignores the reality that Saudi Arabia remains the largest financier of Islamic fundamentalism in the world.  American policy focuses on Iran as the greatest transgressor while ignoring the truth of Saudi Arabia's role in Islamic extremism.  There is a reason the vast majority of the 9-11 highjackers were Saudis.  Now, with the apparent terrorist incident at the Pensacola, Florida Naval facility, we are once again seeing the fruits of Saudi religious extremism (to say nothing of that nation's horrific human rights abuses).  A piece in the Washington Post looks at the apparent radicalization of the Pensacola gunman.  Here are excerpts:
PENSACOLA, Fla. — The Saudi air force trainee who killed three classmates at a Florida Navy base last week was a gifted student whose personality appeared to change after a trip to his native country this year, acquaintances and officials familiar with the case said Monday.
Ahmed Mohammed al-Shamrani was described as “strange” and “angry” in the weeks leading up to Friday’s shooting rampage, but schoolmates and other acquaintances said he showed no outward sign that he was preparing to open fire inside a classroom building where he had been training to become a military aviator. The shooting, which also left eight people injured, is being treated by the FBI as a possible terrorist attack.
“He looked like he was angry at the world,” said the owner of an Indian restaurant that Shamrani and several other Saudi students regularly patronized between classes. The man, like several other businesses owners, spoke on the condition that neither his name nor the restaurant’s name be revealed, citing fears of a backlash from customers. [I]nvestigators are building a profile of the gunman from interviews with dozens of acquaintances, including fellow Saudi students, as well as from a Twitter account that authorities say belonged to Shamrani. The gunman, who was shot dead by a sheriff’s deputy responding to the shooting, is thought to have written a “will” that was posted to the account a few hours before the rampage. In it, he blasts U.S. policies in Muslim countries. The document makes no references to any particular terrorist group. A Saudi government official familiar with Shamrani described the 21-year-old as “an A student” who was “well-liked and kept to himself.” The official said the Saudi government was unaware of a formal complaint filed by Shamrani in April in which he accused an instructor of humiliating him by calling him a derogatory nickname in front of other classmates. [H]is demeanor seemed to change following a recent home leave, several students said, with Shamrani becoming more withdrawn and often appearing sullen, officials familiar with the matter said. Local business owners had a similar impression. . . . . “To us, he was not normal,” the businessman said. He recalled that Shamrani stared at him and his staff in an “angry, challenging” way. But he also noted that Shamrani showed no obvious signs of religious extremism, refraining, for example, from asking if the restaurant served halal meat eaten by observant Muslims. None of the acquaintances recalled Shamrani discussing religion or politics. But FBI officials were drawing insights from the alleged gunman’s Twitter account. The typo-filled will apparently posted by Shamrani is addressed to the “American people.” The writer says he does not dislike Americans per se — “I don’t hate you because of your freedoms,” he begins — but that he hates U.S. policies that he views as anti-Muslim and “evil.” “What I see from America is the supporting of Israel, which is invasion of Muslim countries,” the letter states. “I see invasion of many countries by its troops. I see Guantánamo Bay. I see cruise missiles, cluster bombs and UAV.”
The posting has been widely circulated on Islamist websites, though no group has issued a credible claim of sponsoring or encouraging Shamrani’s actions.

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