Over a dozen Saudi servicemen accused of harboring links to extremist groups and possessing child pornography will be expelled from US military bases, according to media reports.
This comes after the FBI conducted an investigation into a shooting rampage by a Saudi officer at a Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida last month that killed and injured several people.
Early in December, Mohammed Alshamrani, who was receiving pilot training at the base, opened fire in a classroom, killing three sailors and wounding eight others before he was shot dead by the sheriff’s deputies.
he Saudis to be expelled are not accused of aiding the 21-year-old Saudi Air Force second lieutenant in the shooting, but some of them are believed to have been linked to other extremist movements, CNN reported citing a person familiar with the situation.
Some others are also accused of possessing child pornography, according to a defense official and the person familiar with the situation.
The FBI probe also showed that several others had not reported the shooter’s disturbing behavior prior to the attack, according to The Washington Post.
“In the wake of the Pensacola tragedy, the Department of Defense restricted to classroom training programs foreign military students from Saudi Arabia while we conducted a review and enhancement of our foreign student vetting procedures,” said Lt. Col. Robert Carver, a spokesman for the Department of Defense. “That training pause is still in place while we implement new screening and security measures.”
The Justice Department is expected to conclude that the incident was in fact an act of terrorism, CNN cited a US official as saying.
The Pensacola base is a major training site for the Navy and home to its aerobatic flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels. Naval Air Station Pensacola employs more than 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel, according to the base’s website.
Currently, some 5,000 international military personnel are being trained in the United States, including approximately 850 Saudis among all branches.