This week, prominent Trump ally and Republican Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz was quick to denounce a shooting at a Pensacola, Florida, Navy Base as an “act of terrorism,” although it’s unclear why exactly he feels free to make that determination. At present, much of the only publicly available piece of information about the attacker is, wait for it — the color of their skin. The shooter, who killed three people and wounded eight others, was an international student from Saudi Arabia named Second Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, who served in the Saudi Air Force. It’s most definitely unclear that Gaetz would have been so quick to denounce the incident as terrorism if the shooter was white.
‘I’ve had some discussions with law enforcement on the ground, and my assessment after those discussions is that this is unequivocally an act of terror.’
The New York Times notes that Gaetz “declined to say what led him to that belief,” although it’s shared by corrupt corporate shill turned Florida Senator Rick Scott, who agreed with the designation “regardless of the gunman’s motivation” — which isn’t how terrorism designations work in the first place. Just because you’re suspicious of an attacker’s origin, you don’t get to just declare an incident to be terrorism and have the marker stick no matter what led to the attack. Currently, federal authorities including the FBI are “investigating to determine the gunman’s motive and whether the shooting was an act of terrorism” — but that didn’t stop Republicans from jumping ahead with their own proclamations of terrorism anyway.
Florida’s other Senator, the also Republican Marco Rubio, turned to the vetting process for international students. He claimed that the “tragic attack has exposed some serious flaw in that process which must be discovered & corrected” — although the shooter, among other things, bought the handgun that they used in the attack locally.
According to the Times, suspicious details of the incident include a group of three Saudis who allegedly filmed the entire rampage. In total, authorities have reportedly questioned half a dozen Saudis. Overall, there are reportedly currently about two hundred international students studying at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, which is a center for aviation training. Additionally, “shortly before the shooting, a Twitter account with a name matching the gunman’s posted a “will” calling the United States a “nation of evil” and criticizing its support for Israel,” the Times notes. It also quoted Osama bin Laden.
The incident seems to have had no effect on President Donald Trump’s personal allegiance to Saudi Arabia. He claimed that the Saudi king insisted that “this person in no way, shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people who love the American people so much.” Overall, Trump has stuck with the Saudis through scandals like their government’s murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was a resident of the United States. Despite this belligerent act of violence, Trump has kept up the U.S. relationship with the Saudis, including through the perpetuation of arms deals transferring munitions that the Saudis could use against civilians in Yemen.