Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani was a 21-year-old Saudi Royal Air Force 2nd lieutenant training with other Saudi pilots at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla., on December 6, 2019, when he opened fire on American soldiers, killing three, in a jihad-inspired terror attack supported by several other of the Saudi students. Local sheriff’s deputies who responded shot Saeed dead, ending the attack. According to a Daily Mail report, the U.S. embassy in Riyadh issued Alshamrani an A-2 diplomatic visa, and he arrived in Pensacola for military training in August 2017.
Alshamrani was among an estimated 5,000 foreign military trainees in the country training at the time on A-2 diplomatic visas, Saudis making up the majority of them. According to a Military.com story, Saeed and all other foreign military trainees cleared security screenings for the A-2 diplomatic visa, first by their own countries and then by a three-level screening process by U.S. embassies in the host nations. The applicants for training alongside U.S. troops would have their names run through databases maintained by the Departments of Defense, State, and Homeland Security to check for criminal activity or substance abuse. The trainees would also have to submit to a physical and psychological examination by a doctor approved by the U.S. embassy and then pass requirements for a visa from the State Department, officials told the media after the attack.
But the security screenings evidently still missed publicly available and potentially discoverable evidence that in 2015 Alshamrani controlled a Twitter account on which he often posted his interest in jihadiist videos, literature, and well-known extremist Saudi clerics Abdulaziz al-Turaifi and Ibrahim al-Sakran, Kuwaiti Hakim al-Mutairi, and Jordanian Eyad Qunaibi. A Saudi government analysis obtained by the Washington Post showed that Alshamrani posted anti-American screeds calling the country "evil" and that, prior to the attack, he hosted a dinner party in which his guests were entertained with video clips of previous mass terror attacks. Several of his fellow Saudi trainees called in sick the morning of the attack. All were sent back to Saudi Arabia afterward, their visas revoked.