Pentagon Failed to Properly Vet Saudi Pensacola Killer

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Military personnel carry a transfer case for fallen service member, U.S. Navy Seaman Apprentice Cameron S. Walters, 21, during a dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base on December 8, 2019 in Dover, Delaware. Walters was one of three U.S. Navy sailors killed when a Saudi military trainee opened fire at Naval Air Station Pensacola on December 6, 2019 (Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images)
Military personnel carry a transfer case for fallen service member, U.S. Navy Seaman Apprentice Cameron S. Walters, 21, who was killed in the Pensacola attack by a Saudi aviation trainee. An investigation showed that the Pentagon failed to adequately vet the Saudi.  (Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images)

The Pentagon failed to adequately vet the Saudi aviation student who killed three servicemen and wounded eight in a shooting attack carried out at the Pensacola Air Base last December.

In addition, an investigation found that due to gaps in federal law, Mohammed Alshamrani, 21, the perpetrator of the attack, was able to obtain a firearm legally in the U.S., even though he was a foreigner and didn’t even have an immigrant visa.

Based on testimony before Congress by Garry Reid, director for defense intelligence at the Pentagon, as reported by The Washington Free Beacon, the Department of Defense (DOD) has been “overly reliant on the vetting conducted by the Department of State.”

That vetting process didn’t even include looking at the social media posts of Alshamrani, which were full of anti-American sentiments – a clear red flag.

A review of foreign nations participating in U.S. military programs has since been conducted nationwide, resulting in 21 Saudi military trainees in the U.S. expelled from the country.

The trainees were not accused of aiding Alshamrani, but some were found to have connections to extremist movements, while others were in possession of child pornography.

Reid testified that the review showed, “There is insufficient information sharing in place between DoD and the Department of State in that process. We also found that DoD programs meant to detect and mitigate events such as the Pensacola attack did not cover international military students—for instance, our insider threat programs.”

New vetting procedures by the DoD have since been put in place. There are close to 5,000 foreign military students from more than 150 countries currently in the U.S.

Under the new guidelines, the students will be subjected to ongoing screening as well.

Reid noted that the new vetting procedures “produced only a small number of returns that required additional analysis within the Department of Defense.”

In addition, none of the returns “triggered any remedial action or further investigation by federal authorities relative to the current population.”



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