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December 9, 2019 Special Dispatch No. 8399

The Pensacola Air Base Shooting By Saudi Air Force Trainee: MEMRI JTTM Reports On Tweets From Account That Appeared To Be His, And Jihadi Reactions Praising His 'Act Of Heroism'

December 9, 2019
Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 8399

On December 6, 2019, at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida, Saudi Royal Air Force 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a student naval flight officer at Naval Aviation Schools Command who had been at the base for two years, carried out a shooting attack in a classroom, killing three and wounding eight more before being killed in a shootout with sheriffs' deputies.

On December 7, 2019, MEMRI published a Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM) report on the apparent Twitter account of Alshamrani. The report presents tweets from the account prior to its suspension. Today, December 9, MEMRI published a JTTM report on jihadi reactions to the attack, praising Alshamrani for his "act of heroism."

The following are both JTTM reports, complimentary offerings from the MEMRI JTTM.

Tweets From Account That Appeared To Belong To Alshamrani

A Twitter account with the handle @M7MD_SHAMRANI appeared to belong to 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani. The last tweet on it was on December 6, 2019, just hours before the attack; this tweet included what appeared to be a letter in English addressed to the American people expressing animosity towards the U.S. for "funding crimes against Muslims... and humanity." Although it states that the author does not hate the American people, it reflects discontent with U.S foreign policy and refers to "invasion of Muslim countries" and support of Israel. It is not clear who wrote the letter.

The account's Twitter bio included a saying by the Prophet Muhammad: "The believers, in their love, mercy, and kindness to one another are like a body: if any part of it is ill, the whole body shares its sleeplessness and fever." This statement is commonly used to encourage unity among Muslims.

While there is no photo of the user on the account, a photo of his U.S. government ID has been shared by others on social media.

The account username is in Arabic, and the user joined Twitter in October 2012. The account had 358 followers, and followed 56 accounts, including those of the U.S Chief of Naval Operations, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, and the CENTCOM Arabic- and English-language accounts.

Also on December 6, the account retweeted a tweet by The Times of Israel that included the full text of President Donald Trump's speech recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The account owner appeared to be influenced by Saudi preachers such as the imprisoned Abdul Aziz Al-Tarifi and Kuwaiti preacher Hakim Al-Mutairi, among others. Most of his retweets focused on injustice done to Palestinians, and Palestinian grievances. Some of the posts also shed light on atrocities in Syria.

One of the most interesting posts is a retweet from the Taliban, that includes an article by Al-Qaeda strategist Mustafa Hamid, aka Abu Al-Walid Al-Masri. The article states that "the safety of civilians is guaranteed by the mujahideen."

Most of the tweets consist of retweets reflecting interest in Islamic ideologies and wisdom, as well as a passion for Arabic literature. The account also focuses on retweeting news such as the burning of a Quran at a rally in Norway in November 2019 or violence against Arab Muslims in Israel.

The account also retweeted an excerpt from a book by Mohammad Qutb, the Islamist author, scholar, and teacher best known as the younger brother of Egyptian Islamist Muslim Brotherhood thinker Sayyid Qutb.

The account has since been suspended.

Jihadis Praise Pensacola Shooter For "Act Of Heroism"

Jihadis have reacted with enthusiasm to the attack at Naval Air Station Pensacola carried out by Saudi Royal Air Force cadet Mohammed Saeed, lauding him as a martyr for Islam.

On December 7, 2019, on a pro-Islamic State (ISIS) chat room on the messaging app Rocket.Chat, an admin published a poster showing an American soldier carrying a wounded comrade against the backdrop of an apocalyptic scene of a burning U.S. city, with the comment: "Florida is just the beginning."[1]

The above poster appeared on a pro-ISIS poster on a Rocket.Chat chat room on the day following the attack.

Similarly, the Rocket.Chat account for the Al-Qaeda-affiliated news agency Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF) posted a translation of the last tweet sent out from Al-Shamrani's account, adding: "May Allah accept him as a martyr, raise his stature and place him in the highest paradise."[1]

The above post praising Al-Shamrani was published on the GIMF Rocket.Chat account.

In a Telegram post published on December 8, 2019, Egyptian-born preacher Ahmad Al-Qa'qa', who is affiliated with the Syrian jihadi group Hay'at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), praised Al-Shamrani as "a hero from the lions of the Islamic ummah," and asked Allah to accept him as a martyr.


In the above post on Telegram, HTS preacher Ahmad Al-Qa'qa' praises Al-Shamrani as a hero.

Al-Qa'qa's post reads: "While we follow the heroic acts of the mujahideen in Syria, there is a hero from the lions of the Islamic ummah whose heroic story we need to follow. The Muslim youth Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, one of the students training in the Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida, killed four American military personnel and wounded seven others, before he was killed. May Allah accept him. If an act of heroism like this took place every day, many things would have changed. So Allah, accept him among the martyrs."[2] It should be noted that according to media reports, the actual toll of the shooting attack was three dead and eight wounded.[3]

Al-Qa'qa' is active in the Idlib area. In 2018 he ran a Ramadan preaching campaign under the auspices of the HTS Da'wah (Preaching) and Guidance Office, which included lectures delivered to locals throughout the Idlib area, with the aim of "propagating the spirit of jihad" among the local populace, especially children.[4]

 

[1] Talk.gnews.bz, December 7, 2019.

 

[1] Chat.techhaven.to/channel/jihadfisabeelillah, December 7, 2019.

[2] Telegram.me/ahmedalqa, December 8, 2019.

[3] Nytimes.com, December 7, 2019.

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