300 Saudi students grounded after Florida naval attack
Move comes after three sailors were killed last week by Saudi who was student naval flight officer at base in Florida
The U.S. navy has suspended flight training for 300 Saudi Arabian military aviation students at Florida naval bases in the wake of a deadly shooting last week in the city of Pensacola, according to multiple reports Tuesday.
Three sailors were killed Friday by Saudi national Mohammed Alshamrani, a second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force who was a student naval flight officer at Naval Aviation Schools Command.
The gunman also injured eight others before being shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy.
According to Fox News, which cited Navy Commander Clay Doss, classroom and flight training will resume for other students this week.
Doss did not provide any information on when the stand-down would end.
Naval Air Station Pensacola, Naval Air Station Whiting Field and Naval Air Station Mayport are reported to be the bases in question.
According to The Hill, around 850 Saudi military students are currently being trained in the U.S.
Shortly after the shooting, Florida Republican congressman Matt Gaetz said it demonstrates “a serious failure” in the vetting process and in the way the U.S. invites trainees to its community.
“I’m working with the Department of Defense, State Department and Homeland Security to ensure there’s extreme vetting for people who come to our country and train on our bases,” Gaetz said on Twitter. “This was not a murder. This was an act of terrorism.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Saturday declined to label the shooting as terrorism.
“I can’t say it’s terrorism at this time,” he said at the Ronald Reagan National Defense Forum in California.