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Politics Trump’s defense of Saudis grows more isolated after deadly shooting on military base

02:30  09 december  2019
02:30  09 december  2019 Source:   washingtonpost.com

NAS Pensacola shooting: Why the Naval air base has international flight students

  NAS Pensacola shooting: Why the Naval air base has international flight students Training international students at the Naval Air Station Pensacola is a core part of the base's mission.The base employs 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel. This includes major tenant commands: Naval Aviation Schools Command, Naval Air Technical Training Center, Marine Aviation Training Support Group 21 and 23, the Blue Angels and the headquarters for Naval Education Training Command, a command which combines direction and control of all Navy education and training.

Trump ’ s defense of the Saudi government, which began just hours after Friday’s shooting , steadily became a more isolated position over the weekend as more information trickled out about the gunman and other Saudi nationals who were receiving training at the base . On Sunday, the FBI said it

Other Saudis on the base are being questioned. Six other Saudi nationals were detained for questioning near King Salman of Saudi Arabia called President Trump to offer his condolences and share that Saudis are The base employs more than 16,000 military personnel and 7,400 civilians.

After a Saudi gunman killed three people at a naval base in Pensacola, Fla., some of President Trump’s Republican allies took to the airwaves to condemn the attack as an act of terrorism, call for a halt to the training program that admitted the shooter and sharply press the Saudi government to cooperate in the investigation.

Trump did none of that. Instead, he used his appearances before television cameras — and his Twitter account — to repeatedly offer cover for the Saudis, conveying Riyadh’s condolences with more fervor than he used in relaying his personal feelings about the shooting.

6 Saudi nationals detained for questioning after NAS Pensacola shooting: Official

  6 Saudi nationals detained for questioning after NAS Pensacola shooting: Official Six Saudi nationals were detained for questioning Friday near a naval air station in Pensacola, Fla., after a Saudi gunman opened fire there, killing three people before being shot dead by officers, a senior U.S. official told Fox News. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.

The shooter was Mohammed Alshamrani, a 21-year-old second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air U. S . President Donald Trump tweeted Friday that he had been in contact with Saudi King Salman Hours after the shooting at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, a bomb threat at Patrick Air Force Base

Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi vice minister of defense , wrote on Twitter that military trainees Pentagon officials found themselves investigating the second shooting on a military base in less One wild card for the Saudis is Mr. Trump , who anointed Prince Mohammed a key player in his plans

“They are devastated in Saudi Arabia,” Trump told reporters Saturday, unprompted. “And the King will be involved in taking care of families and loved ones. He feels very strongly. He's very, very devastated by what happened and what took place. Likewise, the Crown Prince. They are devastated by what took place in Pensacola.”

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Trump’s defense of the Saudi government, which began just hours after Friday’s shooting, steadily became a more isolated position over the weekend as more information trickled out about the gunman and other Saudi nationals who were receiving training at the base.

On Sunday, the FBI said it presumed the shooting was terrorism.

Military Spouses, Gov’t Workers See Wins in $738B Defense Bill

  Military Spouses, Gov’t Workers See Wins in $738B Defense Bill Negotiators on the 2020 Defense Authorization bill have agreed to repeal the “widow’s tax,” which had shortchanged military spouses on the amount of survivor benefits they could collect. © Bloomberg U.S. military personnel gather to board the USS Wasp aircraft carrier ahead of the Memorial Day address by U.S. President Donald Trump at the U.S. naval base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, on Tuesday, May 28, 2019. Trump said talks with Japan focused on security and a trade deal between the allies are going well ahead of a meeting with U.S.

President Donald Trump said he would conduct a review of programs that allow foreign service Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters on Saturday that the shooting was not considered an Ten Saudi students were being held on the base Saturday, while several others were unaccounted

The shooter was Mohammed Alshamrani, a 21-year-old second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force who Eight people were wounded in the shooting naval base , officials say. The shooter , who was also He condemned the U. S . for its support of Israel and its invasion of Muslim countries and many

“We are, as we do in most active-shooter investigations, work with the presumption that this was an act of terrorism,” said Rachel Rojas, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville division.

Earlier Sunday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), normally a staunch Trump ally, was among several state officials pushing for more stringent scrutiny of foreigners who come to the United States for military training. Gaetz, who earlier called the killing an act of terrorism, also suggested the incident should change America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia.

“Of course, what happened in Pensacola has to inform on our ongoing relationship with Saudi Arabia,” he said ABC News’s “This Week.”

Calls for a reassessment of U.S.-Saudi relations, which have been growing with bipartisan support in recent years, have not received much of a hearing from Trump.

“He decided some time ago that he would be in their corner,” said Jonathan Alterman, director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “And I don’t think that there’s any circumstance under which he would feel the need to rethink that.”

At least one Saudi national filmed Pensacola attack, US Defense Secretary Esper says

  At least one Saudi national filmed Pensacola attack, US Defense Secretary Esper says At least one Saudi national filmed the deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed on Sunday. Friends of shooter Mohammed Alshamrani were detained after the killing of three US Navy sailors Friday. Esper said one or two of those friends recorded the attack.Esper told "Fox News Sunday" that it was unclear whether they were "filming it before it began or was it something where they picked up their phones and filmed it once they saw it unfolding.

HOUSTON — The deadliest mass shooting at an American military base came in November 2009 at After so many incidents, military officials have now embraced active- shooter preparedness and training A Department of Defense directive in 2016 said base commanders may grant permission for the Last year, President Trump said in a speech that he would review policies that prohibit soldiers

Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper said the Pentagon would continue the aviation training program for foreign officers that the gunman There have been at least seven shootings on military bases this year. Several other Saudis on the Pensacola base were detained for questioning after the shooting .

Trump, who often jumps to label shootings by foreigners from Muslim-majority countries as terrorism, had not done so as of Sunday evening.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

The president has personally chafed at idea of not being able to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, even as lawmakers have repeatedly condemned the kingdom’s human rights record in the wake of the grisly murder of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi and civilian casualties from the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing campaign in Yemen.

Democrats tried to restrict arm sales to Saudi Arabia as part of military budget deal negotiated this week, but the White House pushed back and rejected the idea, according to White House and congressional officials who requested anonymity to discuss internal negotiations.

Trump usually brings up oil prices when he talks about Saudi Arabia and has shown little interest in their human rights record, according to current and former aides.

The president has been especially blunt in describing his transactional approach to foreign affairs, particularly in the Middle East where his interests in oil, arms deals and terrorism intersect.

Saudi is lone suspect in Florida naval base rampage; fellow Saudis cooperating

  Saudi is lone suspect in Florida naval base rampage; fellow Saudis cooperating Saudi is lone suspect in Florida naval base rampage; fellow Saudis cooperatingPENSACOLA, Fla. (Reuters) - Investigators believe a Saudi Air Force lieutenant acted alone when he killed three people and wounded eight at a U.S. Navy base in Pensacola, Florida, before being fatally shot by a deputy sheriff, the FBI said on Sunday.

After a Saudi Air Force student' s deadly attack at a U. S . Navy base , U. S .- Saudi Arabia relations has come under the spotlight, with some raising parallels to the 9/11 attacks. The shooting marks a setback in the kingdom' s efforts to cast off its longstanding reputation for promoting extremism after the Sept.

Donald Trump also indicated a review of policies governing foreign military training. More than 850 Saudis are in the US for training activities. The navy identified the three men who died and hailed them as heroes for trying to stop the gunman and flagging down first responders after being shot .

After intelligence officials concluded last year that Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered Khashoggi’s killing, Trump issued a statement that his administration was “standing by Saudi Arabia” for strategic reasons having to do with Iran and because it had agreed to invest “a record amount of money” in the United States.

In the statement, which began by declaring “The world is a very dangerous place!” Trump acknowledged that the crown prince may have known about the plot to kill Khashoggi, before waving it off by saying “maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”

Chris Ruddy, a Trump friend and informal adviser, said the president appreciates the country’s great wealth and that they reached out to him early in the administration to stage such an elaborate trip in 2017.

“He tends to like people who reach out early,” he said. “They gave him a great trip.”

Ruddy said that presidents since time immemorial have dealt with imperfect countries that they believe help them.

“Human rights are not his top priority because he believes the strategic interests of the United States should take priority,” he said. “They are our best Arab ally.”

But even as Trump has embraced that view, it has begun to fall out of favor with Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Some of Trump’s staunchest supporters have called for a tougher stance with the Saudis, a position that has gained strength in the wake of Friday’s shooting.

Saudi defense official meets with Saudi students at NAS Pensacola following deadly shooting

  Saudi defense official meets with Saudi students at NAS Pensacola following deadly shooting A Saudi official visited NAS Pensacola to meet with students restricted their by their Saudi commanding officer following Friday's deadly shooting.The FBI's Jacksonville Division, which is handling the investigation of the attack, tweeted Tuesday morning that Saudi Arabia Defense Attaché Major General Fawaz Al Fawaz and his embassy staff met with the Saudi students. They've been detained on the base by their Saudi commanding officer since the shooting.

Saudi King Salman called Trump soon after the news broke Friday. In a statement, the Saudi Embassy said the king “affirmed that the perpetrator In October, Esper visited Prince Sultan Air Base to see one of the batteries and talk about efforts to get other allies to contribute to the defense of

President Donald Trump , who spoke with King Salman of Saudi Arabia shortly after the shooting , said the Like most military installations, personal firearms are not normally permitted on the base The shooting came two days after a U. S . Navy sailor shot three people and then killed himself at Pearl

Florida Sen. Rick Scott (R), who immediately labeled the shooting terrorism, has called for a halt in the military program that currently brings hundreds of foreign nationals to U.S. bases to train alongside American troops. The alleged gunman in Friday’s attack, Ahmed Mohammed al-Shamrani, was a member of Saudi Air Force participating in the training program. Several other Saudis who were also training on the base have been questioned by the FBI and Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said Sunday that some of the trainees filmed the shooting.

Speaking on Fox News, Scott called on the Saudi government to provide more support for the investigation.

“The Saudi government has got to step up and say there will be full cooperation, they will make sure every student sits down with the FBI and gives up all the information so that we know exactly what happened here,” he said. “It’s disgusting this happened.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), another Trump ally, said Friday that the Saudi government would owe a debt because of the shootings.

Gaetz said he spoke with Saudi Ambassador Reema bint Bandar, who called to offer condolences. He said he told the ambassador that the United States does not want Saudi Arabia interfering in the case but expects its full cooperation should investigators need it.

“There are Saudis that are currently with us that are being investigated, and I made the point, as clearly as I possibly could, that we want no interference from the Kingdom as it relates to Saudis that we have.” he said on ABC News’s “This Week.” “And if there are Saudis that we do not have — that may have been involved in any way in the planning, inspiration, execution, or finance of this — that we expect Saudi intelligence to work with our government.”

Navy looking at making it harder for foreign trainees to buy guns

  Navy looking at making it harder for foreign trainees to buy guns Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the Pentagon is considering additional steps to further protect its military installations, military personnel and families. "Everything is on the table," such as looking at more thorough ways in which foreign nationals are screened, like continuous vetting, he said.But Modly said training programs — such as the one alleged gunman Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, 21, was a member of — are vitally important."It's very important for our national security, as well as the world's national security, that we have partners and allies who we train," he said.

Two other Saudi students watched from a car, the official said. President Donald Trump ' s national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, said on CBS' “”Face More than 850 Saudis are in the United States for various training activities. They are among more than 5,000 foreign students from 153 countries in

Investigators believe the Saudi gunman visited New York City, including Rockefeller Center, days before the shooting and are working to determine the purpose of the trip. The U. S . has sought the assistance of Saudi officials as they try to piece together information about the gunman and his motive.

Trump has yet to make a public call for full cooperation by the Saudis.

On Friday, the first time he faced cameras after the shooting, Trump began by reading a statement conveying the “sincere condolences” of the Saudi king.

“The king said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter and that this person, in no way, shape, or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people who love the American people so much,” Trump said, repeating language that posted on his Twitter account around the same time.

He went on to express his personal condolences, describing the shooting as “horrible.”

Alterman said Trump runs the risk of giving the Saudis a pass if he doesn’t publicly make clear that he expects full cooperation in the investigation. With the president regularly contradicting his diplomats, anything short of a directive from the Oval Office may lack credibility with the Saudis, he said.

“It’s really important that the president sets a line. There has to be complete and unrestricted cooperation and it has to be delivered from the highest levels of the Saudi government,” he said. “I don’t want condolences, I want cooperation.”

Jeff Stein contributed to this report.

Toluse.Olorunnipa@washpost.com

Josh.Dawsey@washpost.com

President Trump shows off posters as he talks with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman at the White House on March 20, 2018, in Washington.© Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post President Trump shows off posters as he talks with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman at the White House on March 20, 2018, in Washington.

US says no new foreign military students until better checks .
WASHINGTON (AP) — No new international military students will come to the United States for training until new screening procedures are in place, the Pentagon said Thursday in the wake of the deadly shooting last week by a Saudi Arabian aviation trainee at a Florida Navy base. The Defense Department's chief spokesman said there is no explicit ban on new students, but none will enter the country the department expands its role in the screening process and begins the additional reviews. Currently the bulk of the screening is done by the departments of State and Homeland Security, as well as the host nation.

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