Saudis distance themselves from US naval base shooter





Riyadh (AFP) - Saudi Arabia sought to distance itself Saturday from a student who carried out a fatal shooting at an American naval base, as it seeks to repair its image of being an exporter of Islamic extremism.

The Saudi military trainee reportedly condemned the US as a "nation of evil" before going on a rampage Friday at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, killing three people and wounding eight.

The shooting marks a setback in the kingdom's efforts to shrug off its longstanding reputation for promoting religious extremism after the September 11, 2001 attacks in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis.

The hashtag "Saudis stand with America" gained traction on social media after King Salman telephoned President Donald Trump to denounce the shooting as "heinous" and pledge cooperation with American officials to investigate the incident.

The king added in the phone call on Friday that the shooter, who was gunned down by police, "does not represent the Saudi people".

The family of the shooter, identified as Mohammed al-Shamrani, echoed the same sentiment.

The pro-government Okaz newspaper quoted one of his uncles, Saad al-Shamrani, as saying that his actions do not reflect the "humanity and loyalty of his family" to the kingdom's leadership.

Prince Khalid bin Salman, the king's younger son and the deputy defence minister, offered his "sincerest condolences" to the families of the victims.

"Like many other Saudi military personnel, I was trained in a US military base, and we used that valuable training to fight side by side with our American allies against terrorism and other threats," Prince Khalid said on Twitter.

"A large number of Saudi graduates of the Naval Air Station in Pensacola moved on to serve with their US counterparts in battlefronts around the world, helping to safeguard the regional and global security. (The) tragic event is strongly condemned by everyone in Saudi Arabia."

- 'Owe a debt' -

The incident is unlikely to affect Washington's close relations with Riyadh, with both governments seeking military and diplomatic cooperation to counter Shiite power Iran.

Seeking to emphasise the close ties, many Saudis on social media highlighted American media reports about two exchange students from Saudi Arabia who drowned last year in Massachusetts after rushing into a river to rescue two small children.

But Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suggested Riyadh should offer compensation to the victims.

"The government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for these victims, and I think they're going to owe a debt here given that this is one of their individuals," DeSantis told US media.

Saudi citizens strongly rejected the view on social media, with one Twitter user saying: "The government of Saudi Arabia is not responsible for every single individual with a Saudi passport."

Relatives of the victims of the 2001 attacks are also suing Saudi Arabia for compensation even though Riyadh has strongly denied complicity in the attacks.

Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has sought to project a moderate image of his austere kingdom, often associated in the West with jihadist ideology.

Prince Mohammed has promoted what observers call a de-emphasis on religion as he pursues a sweeping modernisation drive that has allowed mixed-gender music concerts and ended decades-long bans on cinemas and women drivers.

Saudi Arabia, which is home to Islam's holiest sites in Mecca and Medina and where the practice of other religions is banned, has hosted a flurry of representatives of various Christian traditions in recent months.

But the self-styled reformer has also faced global criticism for the kingdom's poor human rights record, including the jailing of multiple women activists, clerics and journalists.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Brazil to start discussions on joining OPEC in July - energy minister
Brazil to start discussions on joining OPEC in July - energy minister

Brazil will start discussions on joining the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries during a visit to Saudi Arabia in July, its energy minister Bento Albuquerque said on Wednesday. "I have a visit to Saudi Arabia in the middle of this year, then we can start the discussion," Albuquerque told Reuters, adding that Brazil's membership in OPEC would not happen this year. Brazil's president mooted the idea of joining OPEC in October but the idea was not welcomed by industry as producers feared that Brazil would have to comply with output cuts which OPEC and other producers have agreed to.

Saudis get dragged for requesting an investigation of
Saudis get dragged for requesting an investigation of 'absurd' claims crown prince hacked Jeff Bezos' phone
  • World
  • 2020-01-22 05:03:02Z

A United Nations report to be released Wednesday concludes that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) personally infected Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' phone with malware, allowing a massive amount of data to be stolen from his phone, The Washington Post reported Wednesday, confirming a report in The Guardian. The crown prince reportedly sent the world's richest man an infected video link over WhatsApp after the two exchanged contact information on MBS's tour of the U.S. in early 2018.> Remember this image? Jeff Bezos & Saudi crown prince MBS laughing together in 2018. Well, apparently, it was followed by a friendly Whatsapp exchange between the 2 men. Now it turns out, reports the...

Saudi Arabia Denies It Was Behind
Saudi Arabia Denies It Was Behind 'Massive' Hack of Bezos' Phone
  • World
  • 2020-01-22 04:22:28Z

Saudi Arabia is denying reports that Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' phone was hacked when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent him a video file loaded with spyware over WhatsApp.In a Tuesday night tweet, Saudi Arabia's U.S. Embassy said reports "that suggest the Kingdom is behind a hacking of Mr. Jeff Bezos' phone are absurd. We call for an investigation on these claims so that we can have all the facts out." An investigation is already under way. According to multiple news outlets, the United Nations is looking into the matter and demanding answers from Saudi Arabia.Hours before the Saudi denial, the Guardian reported that after MBS' account sent an infected file in an encrypted message in...

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos's Phone Hacked by Saudi Crown Prince: Report

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos's phone was hacked by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2018, five months before the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, the Guardian reported on Tuesday.According to the report, Bezos and bin Salman were having a friendly discussion on Whatsapp when on May 1 bin Salman sent the Amazon CEO a video file. That file was likely infected with malware, and in a matter of hours large amounts of data were extracted from Bezos's phone.Bin Salman is currently attempting to open Saudi Arabia to western investment and wean the country's economy off its dependence on oil. However, the prince is suspected of involvement in the murder of Khashoggi,...

Aramco IPO proceeds to fund Saudi industry, including defense: finance minister
Aramco IPO proceeds to fund Saudi industry, including defense: finance minister
  • US
  • 2020-01-21 14:38:57Z

Saudi Arabia will pump the proceeds from last month's listing of oil giant Saudi Aramco into the local economy over several years, including building up the domestic defense industry amid tensions with Iran, its finance minister said on Tuesday. Mohammed al-Jadaan told Reuters there were "serious efforts" to reduce antagonism between Washington and Tehran after a top Iranian general was killed in a U.S. air strike and Iran retaliated with missile attacks against American bases in Iraq. A string of attacks last year on tankers in Gulf waters and Saudi oil sites, including the world's largest oil processing facility, pierced Saudi defenses and threatened to derail a reform agenda aimed at...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America