A little over a month after the terrorist attack at a Naval Air Station in Pensacola, FL, the military is taking action to prevent further threats. Yesterday, CNN reported that more than a dozen Saudi military members training at U.S. military bases will be expelled from the United States after an investigation conducted in the wake of the mass shooting that occurred last month.
The individuals being expelled have not been accused of assisting the gunman who killed three Americans at the base. But at least some have been found to have ties to extremist movements. A number of them have also been accused of possessing child pornography. Lt. Col. Robert Carver told CNN that the Defense Department is limiting some of the training programs for foreign military officials training with U.S. forces. “In the wake of the Pensacola tragedy, the Department of Defense restricted to classroom training programs foreign military students from Saudi Arabia while we conducted a review and enhancement of our foreign student vetting procedures,” he said. “That training pause is still in place while we implement new screening and security measures.”
According to CNN, military authorities confined about a dozen Saudi students to their quarters as the F.B.I. carried out their investigation. The Pentagon has “initiated a review of all Saudi military trainees in the country, numbering around 850 students.” A U.S. official told the news outlet that the Department of Justice is expected to conclude that the shooting was an act of terrorism.
In the words of everyone with a modicum of common sense, “No sh*t, Sherlock.”
During the aftermath of the shooting, many were shocked at the notion that soldiers from Saudi Arabia would be allowed to train with U.S. soldiers, especially when it became apparent that the authorities were not sufficiently vetting these individuals. The fact that soldiers weren’t allowed to be armed on base was surprising to those unfamiliar with military rules. The expelling of the Saudi military members is a positive step, but it does illustrate how flawed our system is when it comes to examining foreigners coming to the U.S. to be trained by our military.
This isn’t to say that our military authorities are not working hard to keep Americans safe. But this situation does reveal that bad actors can still slip through the cracks. The threat of terrorism from foreigners entering the country is certainly an issue. But overall, it seems to be people who are radicalized after arriving in the United States who are the more pernicious threat. The majority of the terrorist attacks that have been carried out in the United States since 9/11 have been perpetrated by people who came to the country when they were young.
The Pensacola shooting is a stark reminder that radical Islamic extremists still pose a threat, and there are a plethora of ways they can use to infiltrate American society. With tensions increasing in the Middle East, and our continued presence in the region, it is possible that we might see more such attacks in the future.