KEY POINTS

  • Saeed Al-Shamrani was a flight student when he attacked the Naval Air Station
  • Three Navy sailors were killed in the terror attack and many were wounded
  • The lawsuit says Saudi Arabia knew of Al-Shamrani's radicalization and anti-American sentiments

The families of three U.S. service members killed, and 13 others who were wounded in a shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola have sued Saudi Arabia over its role in the 2019 attack. 

The suit filed on Monday claimed that the Gulf Kingdom should have known that the shooter, a member of the Saudi air force, was a threat, according to The Wall Street Journal. It also said that Saudi trainees knew about the shooting plan in advance, but they did nothing to stop it. 

On Dec. 6, 2019, flight student Mohammed Saeed Al-Shamrani, a second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force, shot and killed three Navy service members. He was stationed at the Pensacola base as part of a training program. 

Al-Shamrani was killed during the attack by the police. 

The complaint also alleged that Al-Shamrani told fellow Saudi trainees the night before the attack that he planned to carry out the shooting the following day, The Associated Press reported. The trainees did not report it, and instead called out sick the morning of the killings, it added. 

The lawsuit alleged that “Al-Shamrani was a Trojan Horse sent by his country, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” The Wall Street Journal report added. The plaintiffs also accused the Saudi government of not fulfilling a promise to compensate the victims. 

According to the lawsuit, Saudi Arabia was aware of the shooter’s radicalization and his anti-America social media posts.  

In May, U.S. authorities concluded that the shooter had longstanding ties to al-Qaida and planned an attack before he arrived in the United States. FBI Director Christopher Wray said the Dec. 6 attack "was actually the culmination of years of planning and preparation."

Wray added that evidence showed Al-Shamrani was radicalized for at least as far back as 2015 and had since been associating with "dangerous" operatives from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). He even contacted the AQAP the night before the attack, the FBI Director said. 

A month after the shooting, the U.S. expelled 21 Saudi trainees who had jihadist or anti-American sentiments on social media pages or “contact with child pornography." 

The lawsuit comes as President Joe Biden looks to recalibrate the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia. During his campaign, Biden had called Saudi Arabia a “pariah.”

After taking office, the President announced an end to U.S. support for Saudi-led offensive operations in Yemen. He, however, added that the U.S. would continue to provide support to Saudi Arabia against attacks from Iranian-backed forces in the region. 

AQAP claimed responsibility for a December 6 shooting at the US Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, where a Saudi officer killed three American sailors AQAP claimed responsibility for a December 6 shooting at the US Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, where a Saudi officer killed three American sailors Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Josh Brasted