“Terrorism is the tactic of demanding the impossible, and demanding it at gunpoint.” Christopher Hitchens
“We need to bear in mind that we don’t have religious tests in this country, and we also need to remember that some of our best allies in the war against Islamic terrorism are Muslims.” Mitch McConnell
“The West sees liberation movements as terrorist movements, and that is why I am accused of supporting terrorism: because I support liberation movements.”
It has been a tough week for the United States Navy. A young petty officer (Romero) killed two civilian contractors in Hawaii on Wednesday in Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. Then he turned his weapon on himself. On Friday morning at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, a shooting occurred, which is being investigated as a terrorist incident. Four people are dead, including the gunman. Nine other people were injured in the separate shootings.
As I kept up with both the Florida and Hawaii incidents this week, it became clear that the mainstream media abandoned the Hawaii story immediately after the Pensacola shooting. The mere mention of the word “terrorism” causes the networks to salivate with anticipation. The terrorism story attracts many more readers than the one about the killing of a couple of civilian workers by an angry, mentally exhausted sailor. I suppose we the information consumers are to blame. They wouldn’t chase the story if there were no readers to read it.
It was amazing to me as I scoured the press on Saturday, trying to find something else written about the Pearl Harbor shooting. Crickets. The stories ended immediately. I was quickly inundated with a plethora of Pensacola stories, literally thousands of them. It seems the book on Petty Officer Romero has been closed. It will be most interesting to me in the days to come to see what the Naval Crime Investigative Service (NCIS) uncovers concerning these terribly disturbing murders. I can imagine that the networks and the mainstream media are rather frustrated by the lack of information forthcoming from NCIS, the Pensacola Sheriff’s Department, and the FBI concerning these second shootings in Florida.
In a statement on Saturday night, the FBI identified the Pensacola Naval Base shooter as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, 21. Investigators said he was a 2nd Lt. in the Royal Saudi Air Force and a student naval flight officer of Naval Aviation Schools Command. He entered a classroom that morning and went on a shooting spree, killing three people and wounding eight. He injured two Pensacola Deputy Sheriffs and then was killed by one of the deputies. Several questions are raised concerning this horrific act of cowardice.
- What was the shooter’s motive? Motive is extremely important in determining who will investigate the killings. If it is determined that the killings were terrorism- motivated, then NCIS and FBI will retain jurisdiction. If they are ruled as murders and domestic crime, even though they were perpetrated by a foreigner, the Pensacola Sheriff’s department will most likely take over the investigation. I would see that as an unlikely outcome since it has become so high in visibility. Once the “terrorism” word has been thrown out, it is a problematic genie to put back in the bottle.
- How did the shooter obtain a weapon as a foreign visitor in the US? Where did he get the gun? In Florida, a Floridian can purchase a pistol under certain conditions. This incident will indeed add fire to the gun control conversation, which is already at full tilt!
- Why was he not vetted, especially after open forum Tweets against the US? Somebody will lose their job over this. Just minutes before authorities were alerted to the deadly shooting, a Twitter account aligning with his name posted a message that raises the possibility that the attack was inspired by al Qaeda and its founder, Osama bin Laden. The message, addressed to the American people, repurposed words used by bin Laden and the American al Qaeda terrorist cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki. This was not the first time that this Twitter handle had made threatening tweets. @M7MD_SHAMRANI posted a message addressed to the American people, declaring hate for Americans because of their “crimes” against Muslims. (Somewhere, somebody got sloppy.)
- What was up with the “mass shooting” videos? Second Lt. Shamrani hosted a dinner party earlier in the week where he and three others watched videos of mass shootings; a US official told The Associated Press. What was the purpose of that, and what kinds of questions should his buddies have been asking?
- Why were there other Saudi nationals videoing the shooting rather than assisting? As a retired soldier, this raises all kinds of questions in my mind. Why were they not responding to the shooting? Why weren’t they attempting to help rather than just videoing the attack? Of course, they will be questioned. I have to ask myself: If I were a general in the Royal Saudi Air Force, would these be the kinds of soldiers to which I would want to entrust the defense of my nation?
- Were there any additional accomplices in the shooting? This will lie at the center of the FBI’s investigation. Because of the two questions above, you can bet that the other Saudi officers will endure some rather detailed questioning, not only of their activities but of their family’s and friend’s actions as well. From this point on, their lives will be heavily scrutinized as through the lens of a microscope. My analysis would conclude that the Royal Family will get involved, that they will ask to be a part of the FBI’s investigation. This is an internationally embarrassing, as well as dishonoring act by a Saudi citizen. In honor/shame cultures, these situations do not go away quickly.
- Was the killer’s act an act of terrorism or one of crime? This goes back to the question of motive. If it is concluded that he had somehow been radicalized by a family member or friend, it will be categorized as a “terrorist event.” In doing so, there are a whole host of punishments and investigative tools that do not exist for local law enforcement officials.
- Does the FBI assume an act is “terrorism” until proven otherwise? From my research, it appears that the FBI assumes this was a terrorist attack and is treating it as such. Interestingly, in the shooting in Pearl Harbor, the word “terrorist” was not mentioned in any of my research. Many will try to point the finger at the FBI and accuse them of Islamophobia, because they treated the Pensacola shooting as a terrorist event but not the Pearl Harbor attack. It will be challenging to use the “race card,” as several have over the past few years, claiming that white males are not accused of terrorism. Still, any time a dark-skinned person commits a heinous attack, such as Pearl Harbor or Pensacola, they automatically treat it as “terrorism.” In the case of the Pearl Harbor shooting, that will be more difficult since the perpetrator was a Latino American, identified as Gabriel Antonio Romero.
- What does this do for already tense US/Saudi Relations? In the wake of the murder of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Kashoggi last year, the Saudi/US relations have been tenuous. If it were not for the deeply strained relationship with Iran and Turkey, many would have already abandoned the Saudis for other relationships. Be that as it may, President Trump and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) have seemed to patch things up and are moving forward together with an aggressive agenda in the Persian Gulf. MBS called President Trump immediately after the shootings in Pensacola. “The Crown Prince reiterated Saudi Arabia’s commitment to working with the United States to prevent a horrific attack like the Pensacola shooting from ever happening again,” the White House said in a statement. My guess is that this will have little impact on the US/Saudi relationship. There are enormous reasons for both the United States and Saudi Arabia to remain allies, even in light of a multiplicity of differences, which would point to many variations of ideologies, cultures, and agendas. I want to point out for those who might not follow this: Many think that this is about oil. I would disagree with that analysis. It is not about oil. The United States has surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest petroleum producer. The US has enough oil to sustain its own national consumption for many years to come.
Just in: In a statement by Navy Commander Clay Doss, “Flight training has been suspended for more than 300 Saudi Arabian students at three bases in Florida in the wake of the deadly shooting.” Classroom training is going to start again this week, and flight training for other students will resume. But the Navy on Monday evening ordered that Saudi students at three bases in northern Florida be restricted from flying for an undetermined period of time.
There are not too many places left in the world where the situation is inherently safe. One would think that a classroom on a closed Naval base would be about as safe a place as one could find. Not so on the 6th of December in Pensacola.
There are too many lethal weapons in the world. There are so many different cultures. People from all walks consider the value of life very differently. We live in a world where many people are angry. The internet, television, and drugs fuel their anger along with a disparity of education, wealth, and health.
I will spare you an answer to the larger existential questions, but I would suggest that you learn some situational awareness skills. No longer place your trust in your self- conceived situation of safety. Learn to look around and ask yourself what might be out of place. Is there anything going on around me for which I should be prepared to respond?
I can assure you that you will increase your odds of survival in this world by paying closer attention to what is happening around you. There is no such thing as a 100% safe solution. It is an illusion that many are trying to sell us.
Practice situational awareness. Watch one or both of these short videos. They will help you practice a much higher level of situational awareness.
Russian, Syrian Regime Forces Step Up Attacks on Rebel Stronghold Idlib…https://www.voanews.com/extremism-watch/russian-syrian-regime-forces-step-attacks-rebel-stronghold-idlib
There is more than meets the eye…always! London Bridge ‘hero’ convicted of murder gets a slew of death threats… https://nypost.com/2019/12/08/london-bridge-hero-convicted-of-murder-gets-slew-of-death-threats/
For your comments or questions about any of our digests, please feel free to write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.