Saudi pilot who attacked US Navy base had lodged complaint over instructor's 'porn moustache' jibe

Nick Allen
Mohammed Alshamrani had complained about use of the derogatory comment - via REUTERS
Mohammed Alshamrani had complained about use of the derogatory comment - via REUTERS

A Saudi trainee military pilot launched a terror attack at a US Navy base after an instructor called him “Porn Stash,” suggesting his moustache resembled that of a pornographic film actor.

Mohammed Alshamrani, 21, a second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force, had complained about use of the derogatory comment, which he said left him embarrassed and angry, in April.

The incident happened at the end of a training session in which about a dozen student flyers were learning about meteorology at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida.

An instructor looked at Alshamrani and asked if he had any questions, addressing him as "Porn Stash".

The phrase was spelled that way in Alshamrani's subsequent complaint,  and was taken to be a reference to his moustache looking like that of a male adult film performer.

Alshamrani wrote: "Laughing, he [the instructor] continued to ask, 'What? Have you not seen a porn star before?'. After I did not respond he just let go of the subject.

"I was infuriated as to why he would say that in front of the class."

The Saudi officer, who was part of a programme in which the US trains pilots from allied nations, was upset and two American classmates helped draft his complaint.

The instructor was employed by a civilian contractor, which is now co-operating with the FBI.

A spokesman for the contractor said: "Appropriate personnel action was taken regarding the incident in question. Corrective action was taken. The matter was closed back in April."

Alshamrani carried out his attack eight months later in a classroom building at the same base, just as teaching sessions were getting underway on Friday.

He killed three people, and injured eight more, before being shot dead by police who rushed to the scene.

base - Credit: REX
Hundreds of pilots from Saudi Arabia and other countries train at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida Credit: REX

Alshamrani was armed with a Glock 9mm handgun, which he bought legally in Florida.

He also had up to half a dozen extended magazines, meaning he could have killed many more.

Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida, questioned whether foreigners should be able to buy guns in the state.

Mr DeSantis said he strongly supported the Second Amendment, the constitutional right to own guns, but it "does not apply to Saudi Arabians."

The FBI is treating the attack as an act of terrorism and examining  social media posts believed to have been written by Alshamrani.

He was believed to have called America a "nation of evil" and to have quoted Osama bin Laden.

The night before the attack he held a dinner party for a small group of fellow Saudis where he showed videos of previous mass shootings.

He also visited New York days before the shooting and the FBI is working to determine the purpose of the trip.

Agents believe he carried out the attack alone, but may have had assistance from others.

FBI special agent Rachel Rojas said: "There are a number of Saudi students who are close to the shooter and continue to cooperate in this investigation. The Saudi government has pledged to fully cooperate.

"Our main goal is to confirm if he acted alone or was he part of a larger network."