The United States expelled 21 Saudi Arabian military students after an investigation allegedly discovered links to child pornography and radical extremism.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations was reportedly looking into the Pensacola, Florida naval base shooting that occurred in December 2019. The shooting, which has been deemed an “act of terrorism” by the FBI, left 3 dead and 8 more wounded. While the students in question were not explicitly linked to the shooter or the shooting, they were said to “have connections to extremist movements,” according to the Washington Examiner.
CBS reports that according to the investigation, “17 Saudi cadets’ social media contained ‘jihadist or anti-American content.'” Some of those individuals, along with several others, had “some kind of ‘contact’ with child pornography.”
(Source: CBS News)
A statement from Attorney General William Barr indicates that the decision was made in cooperation with Saudi Arabia, who has agreed to review the conduct of the cadets in question.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia gave complete and total support for our counter-terrorism investigation, and ordered all Saudi trainees to fully cooperate,” he noted. “This assistance was critical to helping the FBI determine whether anyone assisted the shooter in the attack.”
While Barr says that none of the information collected will lead to charges within the United States, he says that the cadets are already facing disciplinary measures back home.
“However, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia determined that this material demonstrated conduct unbecoming an officer in the Royal Saudi Air Force and in the Royal Navy,” he said. “And the 21 cadets have been disenrolled from their training curriculum from the U.S. military and will be returning to Saudi Arabia later today.”
This information comes after reports that Apple is refusing to allow the FBI access to the phone of Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a Saudi cadet who opened fire on Naval Air Station.
As BizPac Review‘s Frieda Powers noted, Barr accused the tech giant of refusing to provide “any substantive assistance” to the investigation by not allowing the government to access Alshamrani’s cell phone, which Barr believes could reveal any co-conspirators and other relevant data.
Apple, on the other hand, stands by the “timely, thorough and ongoing” assistance they claim to be providing, but a spokesperson said: “there is no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys.”
“Backdoors can also be exploited by those who threaten our national security and the data security of our customers. Today, law enforcement has access to more data than ever before in history, so Americans do not have to choose between weakening encryption and solving investigations,” the spokesperson said. “We feel strongly encryption is vital to protecting our country and our users’ data.”
The Pentagon has reportedly said that in the future, they will be taking a closer look at the applicants for military programs that train foreign nationals. These programs were designed to increase partnership with allied countries, though this is enough to make any sane person ponder the age-old question: “With friends like these, who needs enemies?”
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