A Saudi national who opened fire in a classroom on a U.S. Navy base in Florida may have become “radicalized” before the attack, authorities say, though law enforcement officials are still searching for links to international terrorist organizations.
The Daily Wire reported Saturday that the Saudi national, who is accused of killing three U.S. soliders during a pre-dawn rampage at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday, held a “mass shooting” dinner party where he and three others watched footage of mass shootings uploaded to online platforms. While the shooter opened fire inside, one of those three associates filmed the attempted massacre from a vehicle located outside the building.
According to anonymous sources close to the investigation, per Reuters, at least ten individuals are being held under suspicion that they contributed to or had some knowledge of the shooter’s plan, and that includes the individual who videotaped the incident. Officials are looking for at least ten more Saudi nationals and have asked members of the public to step forward with any information they may have related to the Pensacola shooting.
But while the existence of a videotape has some experts to connect Friday’s shooting to terrorism, the FBI appears to believe the Saudi national may have acted alone, if only because his methods don’t match those of any known terror group.
Counter-terrorism expert Rita Katz noted on Twitter that, “[t]he style of the #Pensacolashooting doesn’t necessarily resemble one group over another. However, given that ISIS has very little to lose at this point, it wouldn’t be surprising if it claimed the attack, regardless of the attacker’s potential allegiances.”
On Sunday, Reuters and other outlets reported that the shooter posted “anti-American screeds” to his social media ahead of the shooting, and MEMRI, which tracks and documents under-reported information about terrorism and Middle East politics, appears to have tracked down and located the shooter’s social media profiles.
“The [shooter] appeared to have posted a justification of his planned attack in English on Twitter a few hours before it began, according to SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors online Islamist extremism,” Reuters reported Sunday. “He referred to U.S. wars in Muslim countries, writing that he hated the American people for ‘committing crimes not only against Muslims but also humanity,’ and criticizing Washington’s support for Israel, SITE’s analysis said.”
The shooter also quoted notorious al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
President Donald Trump responded to the attack in a statement Friday, noting that he had spoken with Saudi Arabian leaders, who were also reportedly saddend by the incident.
“King Salman of Saudi Arabia just called to express his sincere condolences and give his sympathies to the families and friends of the warriors who were killed and wounded in the attack that took place in Pensacola, Florida,” the statement from Trump read. “The King said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter, and that this person in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people who love the American people.”