Former Lakewood High track star Mohammed “Mo” Haitham surprised his family in St. Petersburg, Fla., by showing up for Thanksgiving. The 19-year-old Navy airman won’t be there for Christmas. He was one of three sailors killed Friday at the Naval Air Station Pensacola by a Saudi Air Force officer undergoing flight training at the base. 

The tragedy raises serious questions about security on U.S. military installations and the arrangements for hosting foreign nationals in American military settings.

Investigators are trying to establish whether 2nd Lt. Mohammed Alshamrani of the Royal Saudi Air Force acted alone or as part of a conspiracy in Friday’s rampage in a classroom on the base, which killed Haitham, 23-year-old U.S. Naval Academy graduate Joshua Kaleb Watson and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters, 21, of Richmond Hill, Ga., and left eight others injured. Alshamrani was later killed by a sheriff’s deputy responding to the scene.

While authorities have not suggested a motive, the FBI said it is investigating the attack under the presumption it was an act of terrorism. 

The few details released so far include several troubling events involving Alshamrani preceding the attack. Returning to the United States from a break home in February, Alshamrani was described by friends and colleagues as having become more religious. He reported to be “infuriated” with a base instructor who poked fun at him in April, prompting Alshamrani to file a complaint. The night before the attack, Alshamrani reportedly showed videos of mass shootings at a dinner party. 

Authorities are investigating whether the gunman is connected to a Twitter account that contained a posting shortly before the shooting that was critical of U.S. support for Israel. Defense Secretary Mark Esper also confirmed Sunday that several friends of the gunman were detained as part of the investigation, and that “one or two were filming” the shooting.

These might be isolated events that have no bearing on the tragedy. But they raise flags over Alshamrani’s recent experience in Pensacola, and they raise questions not only about him but the oversight of the military training program, which enables thousands of military members from foreign allies to train on American bases. Did U.S. or Saudi authorities receive any warnings about Alshamrani? Did his Saudi superiors hear or report any concerns? Who were the witnesses at the dinner party, and did they report the videos at the time? 

While Alshamrani used a handgun he bought legally in the United States, why was a foreign national in possession of the weapon when rules at the nation’s military bases generally prohibit service members who are not security personnel from carrying personal firearms around the post?

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