Why Saudi gunman was allowed to train at Pensacola Navy base

Reporter: Taylor Smith Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:

We looked at why people from other countries are allowed to train in the United State after a Saudi national shot and killed three training U.S. sailors at the Navy base in Pensacola.

The immediate answer is the Pentagon has an agreement with Saudi Arabia that allows foreign nationals to train on U.S. bases. In fact, training international students at Navy Air Station Pensacola is a core part of the base’s mission.

“I am so very proud of everything you have accomplished and I miss you,” said Evelyn Brady, victim Airman Mohammad Sameh Haitham’s mother.

“The guy that shot him could have came up to him afterwards and said sorry, and he would have accepted his apology,” said Mason Walters, victim Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters’s brother.

“He was a chasing his dream to serve his country and be a pilot,” said Benjamin and Shelia Watson, victim Airmen Joshua Kaleb Watson’s parents.

Family members of the three Navy officers who lost their lives have been remembering their loved ones they will never see again since the days following their murders.

This possible act of terrorism being investigated by the FBI is a reminder of 9/11 to U.S. citizens.

“Similarities between what occurred at Navy Air Station Pensacola and back on 9/11 in New York, they are kind of slim,” said Rich Kolko, WINK News Safety & Security Specialist. “But, anytime you put Saudi aviation terrorism together, it certainly makes people very nervous.”

Governor Ron DeSantis mentioned the shooter bought the gun he used during the shooting through a loophole. There is a loophole in federal law that allows foreign nationals to buy a gun if they have a hunting license, which is what Alshamrani did. He bought a handgun from a dealer in Pensacola.

DeSantis said he plans to push President Donald Trump to close that loophole.

So why did the military let Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani on the U.S. base to train in the Sunshine State in the first place?

Our Safety & Security Specialist said the military personnel coming from different countries are usually the best of the best.

“For the U.S. to fight war successfully, it takes teamwork,” Kolko said. “And building those relationships now is critical.”

It’s important for the military to create allies and to make relationships.

“Something fell through the cracks on this one,” Kolko said.

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