Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) posted a video on Twitter stating that the individual who carried out a mass shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola was a member of the Saudi military. He then referred to the shooting as “an act of terrorism.”
We're learning a Saudi Arabian military member in Pensacola committed these murders.
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) December 6, 2019
Neither the representative nor the authorities have discussed the nature of the terrorist’s ideology, but Rep. Gaetz’s subsequent statements indicate that radical Islamic extremism could have motivated the individuals’ actions. The lawmaker called for “extreme vetting” of individuals who are allowed to train at U.S. military bases:
“Major news organizations are now reporting the information that we began to learn earlier this morning that it was a Saudi Arabian military official in Pensacola, in our community for training, who committed these murderous acts and this terrible, terrible violence at NAS Pensacola. I think it’s important for us to know a little bit about why Saudi Arabian officials are in our community.”
Gaetz then explained why members of foreign militaries are allowed to train in the United States. He stated that this type of training is one of the ways we “ensure that our allies around the world are capable and familiar with U.S. systems, that they’re comfortable working with U.S. officers.”
The lawmaker also acknowledged that this incident demonstrates “a serious failure in the vetting process and in the way in which we invite these people into our community. He later tweeted a video of his appearance on CNN noting that: “This was not a murder. This was an act of terrorism.”
Three victims were killed when Second Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani opened fire at the naval base. Eight others were wounded in the attack. Sheriff David Morgan of Escambia County told reporters that Alshamrani was shot dead by a sheriff’s deputy. The gunman had been training as an aviation student.
This shooting was the second this week to occur at a naval base. The first occurred at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Oahu on Wednesday. The shooting occurred while the base was preparing for the 78th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks that pushed the United States into World War II. The gunman shot two workers, injured another, then turned the gun on himself. His motive remains unknown.
Rep. Matt Gaetz is not the first to call for extreme vetting of foreigners who enter the country. No doubt this incident will generate another conversation on national security and how the authorities ought to investigate those who wish to enter the country. It is likely that the conversation could become just as controversial as the debate over President Trump’s travel ban. But the question each side will have to answer is: “How far do we need to go to ensure the safety of American citizens?
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.
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