The lawsuit is being filed on behalf of the families of three killed and 13 injured by a Saudi military intern at a base in Florida.
Victims of a 2019 shooting at a military base in the U.S. state of Florida and their families are suing Saudi Arabia, saying the kingdom knew the shooter had been radicalized and could have prevented the killings.
The lawsuit was filed Monday in the Northern District of Florida on behalf of the families of the three killed and 13 others injured, including deputies to the sheriff.
Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a Saudi Air Force officer-in-training at Pensacola Naval Air Base, shot and killed three US sailors on December 6, 2019.
The lawsuit comes nine months after US officials revealed that Alshamrani communicated with members of Al Qaeda about planning and tactics in the weeks leading up to the attack and that he had been radicalized before coming. in the United States for a military training program.
The lawsuit alleges that Saudi Arabia was aware of Alshamrani’s associations with al-Qaeda and his radicalization and yet failed to monitor, supervise or denounce him.
The lawsuit also claims that other Saudi trainees at the base knew in advance of the plans for the shooting but did nothing to stop it.
He says the gunman told fellow Saudi Arabs at a dinner party the day before the attack that he planned to carry out the shooting the next day, but instead of reporting it, they called in sick in the morning. One recorded the shots while standing outside the building; two others were watching from a nearby car.
“None of the Royal Saudi Air Force trainees at the scene of the attack reported Al-Shamrani’s behavior or attempted to stop him,” the trial said. “Because they supported him.”
The complaint also states that Alshamrani’s Saudi comrades were aware that he had purchased and stored guns and ammunition in his barracks, and that he had posted and shared extremist material on social media and viewed videos of mass shootings before the attack.
“Al-Shamrani was a Trojan horse sent by his country, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and his proxy, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, for flight training at Naval Air Force Base in Pensacola, Florida, under the auspices of a program linked to billions of dollars in US military arms sales to the UK, ”the lawsuit says.
“The Americans did not know that such an arrangement would soon turn into a horrible Faustian affair.
A month after the shooting, then Attorney General William Barr announced that 21 Saudi interns had pro-armed or anti-American group sentiments on social media pages or “contact with child pornography” were sent home.
The lawsuit seeks damages against Saudi Arabia under an exemption from the law which allows prosecution of foreign countries for acts of “terrorism”.
Although then-President Donald Trump told reporters he had spoken with the King of Saudi Arabia and that the kingdom would help the families of the victims “very extensively,” the kingdom violated the agreement by not compensating them or not engaging with them, depending on the lawsuit.
A spokesperson for the Saudi embassy in Washington did not immediately return an email seeking comment on Monday.
The lawsuit comes as the Biden administration signaled a tougher stance on Saudi Arabia after a rather warm relationship over the past four years between Trump and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden delivered on his campaign pledge to end US support for a six-year Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen. He said, however, that the United States would not completely abandon military assistance to the kingdom.