Gaetz Seeks Retribution For 2019 Saudi Arabia Shootings

Gaetz Seeks Retribution For 2019 Saudi Arabia Shootings

Mateo Guillamont
Mateo Guillamont
December 8, 2023

On the four year anniversary of the deadly Pensacola Naval Air Base (NAS) terrorist attack, US Representative Matt Gaetz (R-Fl) has filed a bill aimed at holding Saudi Arabia accountable. 

On December 6, 2019, Saudi Arabian Royal Air Force second lieutenant Mohammed Alshamrani opened fire on American servicemen after being radicalized by al-Qa‘ida’s ideology. 

Alshamrani killed Cameron Walters, 21, Mohammed Sameh Haitham, 19, Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, and wounded eight others, including two sheriff’s deputies.

Representative Gaetz’s bill claims Saudi Arabia was negligent in its duty to inform the US of Alshamrani’s extremist beliefs, which he publicly expressed on social media prior to the attack. 

Saudi Arabia had enrolled Alshamrani in a joint military training program at NAS.

A few days after the occurrence, Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, the Saudi Ambassador to the United States, visited NAS, expressed her deepest condolences, and offered assistance with investigations. 

However, Saudi Arabia failed to respond to a court summons in March 2021 after a lawsuit was filed in February 2021 by the families of the deceased and wounded seeking compensation. 

“Al-Shamrani was a Trojan Horse sent by his country, Saudi Arabia, and the Saudi authorities were negligent in properly screening Al-Shamrani,” reads the bill. 

If passed, the bill would prohibit weapons and munitions exports to Saudi Arabia, end support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, and freeze all military officer-exchange programs. 

Additionally, Gaetz’s bill would amend the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Act to provide for compensation of those affected by the attack. 

To cover such compensation, $1 billion from U.S. military aid to Ukraine would be diverted into the Justice for United States Victims of State-Sponsored Terrorism Fund. 

“Four years ago today, our community was rocked when a Saudi student opened fire on Naval Air Station Pensacola,” said Gaetz via press release

Gaetz continued, claiming the events made “evident that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States were insufficient in vetting foreign students – allowing those with radicalized views access to our military bases.”

The same bill was filed last year by Gaetz, but it failed to pass.

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Mateo Guillamont

Mateo Guillamont

Mateo is a Miami-based political reporter covering national and local politics

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