The United States is removing nearly two dozen Saudi military students from a training program and sending them back to Saudi Arabia after an investigation into a deadly shooting by a Saudi aviation student at a Florida navy base last month, Attorney General William Barr said Monday. Many of the 21 cadets had contact with child pornography and possessed jihadist or anti-American material, Barr said. None is accused of having advanced knowledge of the shooting, which Barr said was motivated by “jihadist ideology” and which he classified as an act of terrorism, the AP reports. The Justice Department reviewed whether any of the trainees should face charges, but concluded that it did not meet the standards for federal prosecution.
The 21-year-old Saudi Air Force officer, 2nd Lt. Mohammed Alshamrani, opened fire at the base in Pensacola, killing three US sailors and injuring eight other people. Prior to the shooting, Alshamrani visited a memorial to the Sept. 11 attacks in New York City, made statements online critical of American military action overseas and professed a belief that violence was necessary to defend Muslim countries, law enforcement officials said in revealing new details about the motive of a shooting that focused attention on the presence of foreign trainees on American bases and the quality of vetting. Alshamrani, who was killed by a sheriff’s deputy during the rampage at a classroom building, was undergoing flight training at Pensacola, where foreign military members routinely receive instruction.
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