The Pentagon is halting operational training for all Saudi Arabian military students in the United States following a deadly shooting by a Royal Saudi Air Force officer at a naval facility in Pensacola, Florida, last Friday.
Three young sailors at Naval Aviation Schools Command were killed and another eight injured in the attack, carried out by a 21-year-old Saudi national who exploited a loophole to legally purchase the 9 mm handgun used in the shooting.
About 850 Saudi students are currently enrolled in U.S. military programs. Under what the Pentagon is calling a “safety stand-down,” these students will be restricted to classroom-only instruction moving forward.
A senior U.S. defense official told Reuters the move is part of a broader review of security procedures regarding international students receiving military training in the U.S., of whom there are about 5,000.
The official said there’s no evidence the Saudi shooter was part of “a larger ring or larger conspiracy,” but the attack did suggest there could be better vetting processes in place for students from Saudi Arabia.
The gunman reportedly hosted a dinner party the night before the shooting, where attendees watched videos of mass shootings. The New York Times reports six Saudi nationals have been detained for questioning, including three who were seen filming the shooting as it unfolded.
An FBI investigation into the shooting is treating it as an act of terrorism.