Saudi Arabia will withdraw 21 cadets receiving military training in the United States following a U.S. investigation into a Saudi officer’s fatal shooting of three Americans at a Florida naval base that U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Monday branded an act of terrorism.
The servicemen are not accused of aiding the 21-year old Saudi Air Force lieutenant. But US Attorney General William Barr said the cadets were found to have had jihadist material and indecent images of children in their possession.
Three sailors were killed and eight wounded in the 6 December attack.
Training for Saudi servicemen was put on hold in the US after the attack.
Mr Barr told a news conference on Monday that the shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola had been an “act of terrorism”. He said he had asked Apple to unlock two iPhones that belonged to the gunman, who was killed by police in the attack. The gunman fired a bullet into one phone in an effort to destroy it, Mr Barr said, but FBI investigators were able to restore the device.
The Dec. 6 attack further complicated U.S.-Saudi relations at a time of heightened tensions between the United States and Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival.
Barr provided previously undisclosed details about Alshamrani’s actions before the shooting.
During a news conference, Barr – the top U.S. law enforcement official – said there was no evidence that Alshamrani had received assistance from other Saudi trainees or that any of them had knowledge in advance of the attack.
He indicated that it was Saudi Arabia that withdrew the cadets, rather than the United States formally expelling them, and said the Saudi authorities told him they would consider filing criminal charges against them. A Justice Department official, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, said U.S. officials agreed with the decision to withdraw them.