Sites that monitor Jihadist activity online say they’ve unearthed a Twitter manifesto from Pensacola gunman Mohammed Alshamrani in which he calls the United States a nation of evil and quotes Osama bin Laden.
Well-known news sites like The New York Times, AFP, and ABC News have all reported on the possible manifesto (ABC7 called it an “online screed”), but have made it clear that authorities have not verified it. ABC reported that authorities are investigating whether the writings were really made by the Pensacola shooter, writing, “Investigators have found what purports to be an online screed written by the shooter and are working to determine if it is legitimate.”
Alshamrani, a member of the Saudi Air Force, was undergoing aviation training at Pensacola Naval Air Station (NAS) when authorities say he produced a locally acquired handgun and began shooting in a classroom building. The Saudi national was shot and killed by an Escambria County Sheriff’s deputy; three people died, not counting the shooter, and another eight people were wounded. Authorities have stopped short of labeling the mass shooting terrorism, but they are investigating that angle. Fifteen of the 9/11 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia, but the Saudi King has condemned the Pensacola attack.
Here’s how The New York Times put it: “A group that monitors online jihadist activity said that 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.”
ABC7 reported that authorities are trying to verify the “online screed” which rants about American mistreatment of Muslims and may have been penned by the shooter. It expresses “hatred toward Americans” and dismay at U.S. support for Israel, according to the television station. AFP reported that the online comment (which was in the form of a tweet), called the United States a nation of evil.
Two of the victims have been named: Mohammed Haitham and Joshua Watson. You can read about their lives here. The third victim has not yet been named.
Here’s what you need to know about the Twitter page:
The Twitter Page ‘Suggests Terrorist Motive,’ the Organization’s Director Says
Above you can read a copy of the alleged manifesto as people have screenshotted it on Twitter. Heavy has confirmed that the Twitter page in question has been suspended by Twitter.
The organization Site Intel Group, which has been quoted by major news organizations for years relating to its online jihadist tracking, describes itself as “provider of Jihadist/Far Right & Far Left/Cyber Security News.” For years, this organization has been tracking jihadist activity on the Internet, including that by ISIS and al-Qaeda. The group claims that it has unearthed the Twitter profile belonging to Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani.
According to Site Intel Group, the Pensacola shooter quoted bin Laden in a “will justifying attack.” Rita Katz, who is director of the group, wrote, “Tweet by #Pensacola attacker Alshamrani suggests terrorist motive. Does not claim allegiance to any group, but echos Bin Laden: ‘The security is a shared destiny…You will not be safe until we live it as reality in [Palestine], and American troops get out of our land.'”
You can read more about Rita Katz’s background here in a 2006 article about her anti-terrorism work. She has her critics. According to The New Yorker, she was born in Basra, Iraq to a wealthy Jewish businessman. Her father was “arrested and charged with spying for Israel” by Saddam’s regime and was hanged in a public square while belly dancers performed and crowds cheered. Katz escaped with her mother to Israel.
The alleged Twitter manifesto reads, “O American people, I’m not against you for just being American, I don’t hate you because your freedoms, I hate you because every day you supporting funding and committing crimes not only against Muslims but also humanity. I’m against evil, and America as a whole has turned into a nation of evil. What I see from America is the supporting of Israel which is invasion of Muslim countries, I see invasion of many countries by it’s (sic) troops, I see Guantanamo Bay. I see cruise missiles, cluster bombs, and UAV.” The tweet is dated the morning of the attack on December 6, 2019.
Those who reviewed the page on Twitter before it was suspended also claim that it retweeted a Times of Israel article from 2017 that reads, “full text of Trump’s speech recognizing Jerusalem as capital of Israel” and quoted bin Laden.
Katz also wrote, “The issue of #Jerusalem seems to have been a critical point of Shamrani’s anger. His second-most recent of his tweets (just before his will) was an RT of Trump’s December 2017 Jerusalem speech, made sometime in the last 48 hours.” She added: “#Pensacola shooter Twitter account was created in 2012 and amasses over 2,700 tweets.”
Other people on Twitter, many of them writing in Arabic, began directing comments toward the Twitter page, which was also sometimes in Arabic, right after American news media began identifying the shooter as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani (authorities have not formally done so). Many of them challenged the writer’s beliefs, saying he does not represent the Saudi people as a whole. “Our sympathies to all victims’ families. This is an act of ignorance, hate and extremity that we in Saudi stand against, and have already suffered alot from it. This terrorist represents only himself, yet his action has disgraced us all. Hope he never sees light again,” wrote one such comment directed at the account about an hour after the name was released.
Another wrote, “many Palestinians living in peace in USA and you stupid did that and killed innocent people, what you did is against our religion and our people, you brought worse and never nothing good.”
“I actually blame the Islamic brotherhood, Before the shooter Twitter account get suspended, He was following many of the Islamic brotherhood well-known figures which are known for inciting against countries such as the US and Saudi Arabia and for personal interests,” wrote another person on Twitter.
Because the site is suspended, the tweets can no longer be reviewed.
READ NEXT: Learn More About Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani.