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Saudi gunman 'legally' purchased pistol used in US terror attack

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, 21, second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force

The Saudi gunman purchased the pistol used in an attack on a US airbase legally from the country,  the FBI has revealed.

Mohammed Alshamrani, 21, the Saudi national who was a student naval flight officer, purchased a 9mm Glock handgun model 45 that was used in Friday's shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola legally and lawfully in the US, media reported on Monday.

Alshamrani used the handgun to kill three sailors and wound eight more people on Friday before he was fatally shot by police.

Alshamrani was "a 21-year-old second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force who was a student naval flight officer at Naval Aviation Schools Command" in Pensacola, Rachel Rojas, special agent in charge of the Jacksonville Field Office, told media at a news conference on Sunday.

"He did purchase it legally and lawfully," Rojas said. Regarding the legal process Alshamrani used to acquire the handgun, she added, "It's not just him, but any foreign national."

The FBI has been secretive about the high-profile case of terrorism despite objections from Florida politicians who have spoken publicly about it.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has repeatedly urged the authorities to do better vetting of military personnel who come to the US on training missions, saying on Sunday, "they should not be doing that if they hate our country."

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper has reportedly ordered a review of the vetting process of foreign nationals who come to the US for military training.

However, Esper insisted that "Saudi Arabia is a longstanding partner of ours in the region," adding that the attack would not alter his decision to send US troops to Saudi Arabia.

In the meantime, US President Donald Trump is making efforts to safeguard US-Saudi relations, and the Saudi royal family in particular, in the aftermath of the shooting.

On Saturday before leaving the White House for a trip to Florida, Trump claimed that the Saudi leadership had been "devastated" by the attack, adding that the Saudi monarch would somehow be involved in “taking care of families and loved ones.”

Trump's mild approach towards the Saudi attack on US sailors has made some question the nature of the close ties between the Saudi monarchy and the Trump family.

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