By Arab News
Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri*
When we, as Saudis, heard last Friday the news of the hideous crime inside the Pensacola naval base in Florida, we were shocked. Because of current political events and the joint work carried out between the US and Saudi Arabia, we could not believe it at first. Obviously, we said that the logical beneficiary of this attack would be the one who has a problem and is disturbed by the close cooperation between Riyadh and Washington.
This attack reminded us of the heinous terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the accompanying media attack that followed, as an army of extremists used them as a platform from which to spread their hateful ideologies.
These two attacks also served those who wished and still wish to drive a wedge between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States of America. The strategic relations between the two countries have played many important roles in the security and stability of the region, as well as in tackling the common threats faced by the US, the region and the rest of the world.
There is no doubt that relations between the two countries have served both well. This relationship has led to Saudi-American collaboration in strategic research and joint centers despite the cultural differences and the geographical dimension. The wisdom of the leaders of these countries and their awareness of the greater interests, which include political and economic security, works to the benefit of all countries and enables them to face regional and global challenges.
There are some who would like to turn the US and Saudi Arabia into enemies instead of allies. Such people like to take advantage of any mistakes that may occur, including events that have occurred only because of people who represent themselves and not their country, their religion or their culture.
Our values make us see who is guilty of these inhumane attacks. We ask: How can you attack a country in such a cowardly fashion when that country has opened its air, land and military bases to you and trained you?
This work can only be done by a cowardly villain. He has betrayed his country, which trusted him and spent millions on his education. Instead, he stabbed her in the back.
The perpetrator of this heinous criminal act, Mohammed Alshamrani, does not even represent his family. His family has denounced, condemned and disavowed this act. The perpetrator did not think about the feelings of his family and how they would suffer psychologically from his heinous crime.
We are still waiting for the investigations to be completed so that we can learn the details of what happened. What we do know is this: The New York Times quoted a US official as saying that investigators had found no indication that Alshamrani was linked to international terrorist groups and these investigators believed he had been radicalized on his own. He reportedly entered the US for the first time last year, then returned to Saudi Arabia, entered the US again in February, and reported for training at the base only nearly three days before the attack.
Federal investigators did not reveal any motives behind the attack, which occurred at dawn on Friday, when the Saudi trainee was said to have started firing a pistol in a classroom at the navy base.
All in all, we must support each other, learn from mistakes, and know that there are fools and madmen who may commit criminal acts in the name of religion or fighting racism. We still remember the terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand in March and the many victims, but New Zealanders joined together in condemning such a terrorist act. Their condemnation helped prevent other extremists from stoking the fires of hostility.
We must also once again realize that there is always someone out there who waits for a Saudi-American dispute to occur so that they can benefit from the rupture. We must work everywhere and on every occasion to confront such voices.
- Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri is a political analyst and international relations scholar. Twitter: @DrHamsheri