July 19th, 2024


Saudi sympathies ring hollow after Pensacola shooting

Cal Thomas

By Cal Thomas

Published Dec. 12, 2019

If it walks like a duck ... you know the rest.

Following a shooting attack at Naval Air Station Pensacola by a Saudi national identified as 21-year-old Mohammed Alshamrani, the FBI issued a statement saying it presumes the incident was a terrorist attack.

What might have given them that idea?

If profiling were not politically incorrect, authorities might have done a deeper dive into Alshamrani's background. First, he was a Muslim from Saudi Arabia, from which 15 of the 9/11 hijackers came. It is a nation that promotes the most radical form of Islam, known as Wahhabism, which is taught to some Saudi children in Wahhabi schools. The new leadership in Saudi Arabia has pledged to clean up its textbooks, but convincing evidence is yet to be provided.

Second, Alshamrani and several other Saudi students at the base reportedly watched a video of mass shootings before Alshamrani committed his evil deed.

Third, he reportedly posted a manifesto on Twitter in which he denounced America as a "nation of evil" that is responsible for killing Muslims. He also denounced Israel. Surprise!

Any one of these should have raised concerns and prompted an investigation.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper and several members of Congress have rightly called for a review of vetting procedures for foreign nationals at American training facilities, but it will take more than that.

After making the requisite statement that not all Muslims are terrorists, let me suggest that the motivations of those who are terrorists require a more serious combat strategy for the protection of innocents.

The U.K. has had a program for some time designed to "de-radicalize" people arrested on terrorism charges. The problem with that, as terrorist expert Steve Emerson writes on his website: "Of the 400+ Islamic terrorists released in recent years, nearly 70 percent refused to take part in any de-radicalization program while incarcerated."

Emerson notes that the teachable moment (why do we need more?) of Usman Khan, who was on supervised early release from prison when he killed two people and wounded several others Nov. 29 near London Bridge, and the ineffectiveness of "rehabilitation" programs for these radicals: "Many of those who did participate in a rehabilitation program may not be truly de-radicalized."

President Trump says he spoke with Saudi Arabia's King Salman Al-Saud after the killings, and that the king expressed his sincere condolences and has promised to compensate relatives of the dead and those who were wounded in the attack, but that's not enough. Yes, Saudi Arabia is an important ally in its opposition to the Iranian regime, but it has yet to be held accountable for the 2018 murder of Saudi businessman and sometime Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Unless Saudi Arabia has a conversion moment that credibly repudiates the extreme wing of Islam it has practiced and taught foe decades, one has a right, even a duty, to question its sincerity in the matter of the Pensacola killer.

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Cal Thomas, America's most-syndicated columnist, is the author of 10 books.