Adam Alsahli, a Syrian-born man with a prolific social media presence focused on the Islamic religion, was named by multiple national news outlets as the gunman accused in the terrorism-related shooting at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi.
The now deceased shooter’s social media accounts contain voluminous Islamic religious posts, according to a review of his multiple pages by Heavy. The translation of his Twitter profile statement, which is in Arabic, reads, “I love the Mujahideen, I am not one of them, and my sword is on the necks of those who stab them.”
A post shared on his Facebook page from 2017 read, “Where are the Muslims?! Where is the Islamic world of what is intended for Jerusalem?! Where is the Islamic nation extended in the mashreb and Moroccan?! Why not the nation?! Why not say no?! Our nation can’t silence on this injustice!!” Alsahli was majoring in business administration at the community college in Corpus Christi, according to USA Today.
Alsahli was named by NBC News and CNN but not authorities. The shooter was stopped at the gates by a quick-thinking sailor performing security duties; she was shot in the chest, but her life was saved by her bulletproof vest, CNN reported. He careened into a barrier, exited the vehicle shooting, and was shot and killed by security forces at the NAS, according to the cable news network. According to USA Today, when the security sailor was shot, she “rolled over and raised a barrier to the base’s security gate,” stopping the gunman from entering the base.
“We have determined that the incident this morning at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi is terrorism-related,” said FBI Senior Supervisory Special Agent Leah Greeves in a press conference on May 21, 2020.
“We are working diligently with our state, local and federal partners on this investigation, which is fluid and evolving,” said Greeves. She did not provide additional details about what led authorities to think the shooting was terrorism-related.
The attack came just days after authorities revealed that a 2019 attack at a Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida by a Saudi Air Force Officer was terrorism-related. The delay in revealing that motive came because authorities couldn’t initially access the suspect’s cell phone; they eventually say they discovered he had communicated with al-Qaida.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Alsahli, Who Wrote on Social Media That He Is From Damascus, Syria, Filled His Pages With Islamic Religious Posts
Alsahli had accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, minimally. He also belonged to a WhatsApp Group, according to his Instagram page. On Facebook, he wrote that he was from Damascus, Syria. The page is filled with Islamic religious posts and is in Arabic. His Twitter page is also filled with religious sayings. Under “works at” on Facebook, he wrote in Arabic, according to the Google translation: “Whoever was the last of his words, there is no god but God, entered Paradise.”
In 2017, he shared a post that read, “The recitation of Sheikh Mohamed Allḥydạn.” That same year, a post read, “Aya, one of the best applications to read the holy Quran.” One post he shared gave 10 reasons “Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم was the greatest!”
His Instagram page is also filled with religious posts about Islam. The translation of the profile comment reads, “And if the Qur’an is read, listen to it and listen to it, so you will have mercy. Praise be to God, who took me from the darkness of the Brotherhood to the light of monotheism.”
Here’s one of many examples:
Post after post show a similar focus.
Here’s his page:
Rita Katz, of Site Intelligence Group, which tracks terrorist activity online, wrote on Twitter, “Killed #CorpusChristi shooter’s soc media supports killed AQAP official Ibrahim al-Rabaysh, Taliban & pro-AQ: ‘I love the Mujahidin, I’m not one of them and my sword is aimed over the necks of whoever doubts them (stabs them).’ No signs of #ISIS support.”
A 2014 State Department notice on al-Rabaysh says he posed “a significant risk of committing acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.” The New York Times wrote, “Ibrahim Sulayman Muhammad Arbaysh was a citizen of Saudi Arabia. He was transferred to Saudi Arabia on Dec. 13, 2006. He died on April 13, 2015.”
Katz added that Alsahli shared ideology with the earlier attacker at a Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida: “The attacker, Adam Alsahli seems to have strong connection to Syria (possibly lived in Damascus). Also demonstrates similar ideology as Pensacola shooter Shamrani (not to mention selecting same target type), though there is no direct evidence that the two events are related.”
According to CNN, the shooter “was a US resident who was originally born in Syria, and likely a supporter of Salafi-jihadist ideology.” In contrast to Katz, CNN said the accounts show “support for ISIS and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).”
2. Alsahli Wrote That He Attended a Saudi Arabian University
On LinkedIn, the shooter wrote that he was a “student at Umm Al-Qura University.” That university is a public Islamic university in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. That university is the only entry on his page.
According to its website, NAS Corpus Christi is “Home to Chief of Naval Air Training, Training Air Wing FOUR, Corpus Christi Army Depot and other tenants. NAS Corpus Christi has supported pilot training and operations since 1941.”
In addition, the NAS website says, “Naval Air Station Corpus Christi has been home to Naval pilot training since 1941. Today, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and foreign student pilots earn their wings training in the fours squadrons of Training Air Wing FOUR, using NAS’ Truax Field and outlying airfields.”
Naval Air Station Corpus Christi posted a series of statements on its Facebook page. Among them: “The active shooter is neutralized…”
“Thanks to NASCC security and CCPD law enforcement officers’ prompt and professional response to an active shooter at the North/Ocean Drive Gate, this morning’s incident ended with only minor injuries to one Security Force personnel,” the post said. “The injured Sailor was taken to a local hospital, deemed in good condition and released. The shooter no longer poses a threat. North/Ocean Drive Gate remains closed until further notice. The Main/South Gate is open.”
Earlier, the station wrote, “Lockdown lifted. Normal traffic patterns have resumed at the Main/South Gate. North/ Ocean Dr. Gate remains closed to all traffic. All personnel are advised to stay clear of the North/Ocean Dr. Gate.”
According to ABC News, the injured sailor was a security guard. The FBI’s Houston office also confirmed, “Shooting occurred at approximately 6:15 a.m. One sailor was injured. The sailor is in good condition and is expected to be released later today. All gates on the installation remain closed while first responders process the scene. This is an active and ongoing investigation.”
3. The 911 Call Came in for an Active Shooter on Base But Authorities Said There Might Be a Second Person of Interest at Large
911 dispatch audio captured the dispatcher saying that there were reports from the Naval Air Station of an active shooter who was “on base.”
So far, there was only one possible suspect suspected, the dispatcher said at that time. There was a “shootout at that location,” and a military member was shot and the shooter was down, the audio said.
Greeves confirmed that the suspect is deceased. She said there might be a second related person of interest “at large in the community” but urged the public to remain calm.
She said she could not provide additional information because the investigation is ongoing.
4. The SWAT Team Raided a Home Linked to Alsahli Along Greensboro Drive
Local reporters indicated that the SWAT team had descended on a home along Greensboro as authorities continued to investigate the attack. Kris TV reported that Alsahli had lived in the home. The station reported that the home was “on the 4600 block of Greensboro Dr.”
According to ABC News, the shooter “sped through a gate,” but vehicle barriers brought his car to a halt.
The incident occurred at 6:15 a.m. on May 21. The driver exited the car, started shooting, and was “neutralized,” ABC reported.
A Justice Department spokesperson told ABC News that “electronic media” was found at the scene, without specifying.
5. The Earlier NAS Pensacola Attack Was Perpetrated by a Saudi Officer Who Killed Three People & Wounded Eight More
The shooting came just days after federal officials said a mass shooting at another Naval Air Station last year was linked to Al-Qaeda.
Mohammed Alshamrani was a Saudi Air Force officer who committed that December 2019 mass shooting, killing three people and wounding eight more at the Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida, a military base sometimes called the “Cradle of Naval Aviation.” On May 20, the FBI director confirmed that the U.S. government had found a link between Alshamrani and al-Qaida.
“The new evidence shows that al-Shamrani had radicalized not after training here in the U.S. but at least as far back as 2015, and that he had been connecting and associating with a number of dangerous AQAP (al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula) operatives ever since,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a virtual press conference.
Read more about that case here.