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Navy grounds Saudi pilot training program at Mayport, 2 other Florida bases

PENSACOLA, Fla. – The Navy has grounded more than 300 Saudi nationals training to be pilots, including more than 100 students training at Naval Station Mayport.

This comes days after a 21-year-old Saudi student shot 11 people and killed three at Pensacola Naval Air Station. While the FBI continues to investigate, three Naval stations -- including Mayport -- have grounded Saudi pilot trainees.

There are about 140 Saudi Arabian students training at NAS Pensacola, 35 at NAS Whiting Field and 128 at Naval Station Mayport -- all of which are suspended.

This comes after a deadly shooting on Friday in Pensacola. The shooter, identified as Mohammed Alshamarni, is a member of the Saudi military who was in aviation training at the Pensacola base.

The FBI is investigating the deadly shooting as a terror attack. According to the New York Times, six other Saudi nationals were also detained for questioning.

Alshamrani was one of nearly 5,200 foreign students from about 150 countries for military training in the United States. Many of those students operate U.S. military hardware that foreign governments buy from the U.S.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest customer for military equipment, which is mostly American made.

The shooter was one of 852 Saudi nationals training in the U.S. Those students are now grounded and will be limited to classroom training. The pause in flight training will not apply to students from countries other than Saudi Arabia.

News4Jax has reached out to a local Navy spokesperson to learn more about what will happen with the program moving forward.


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