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Immediate Release

Statement by Director of Defense Intelligence Garry Reid

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for joining us.

On January 13th of 2020, the attorney general announced the results of the Department of Justice investigation of the December 6th, 2019, attack at Naval Air Station Pensacola that resulted in the death of three U.S. service members and the wounding of eight other Americans.  The evidence shows that the shooter was motivated by jihadist ideology, and the Department of Justice concluded that this was an act of terrorism.

While there was no evidence of assistance or pre-knowledge of the attack by other members of the Saudi military, or any other foreign nationals, who are attending training in the United States, during the investigation of the shooter, we learned of derogatory material possessed by 21 members of the Saudi military who were here training in the United States.  The relevant U.S. attorneys' offices independently reviewed each of the 21 cases involving derogatory information and determined that none of them would, in the normal course, result in federal prosecution.

Nonetheless, our service secretaries and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency determined that these international military students failed to meet the professional standards expected of students participating in our foreign military training programs.  The Department of Defense worked with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to withdraw these students from training and return them to Saudi Arabia.

 We will never forget those that perished in this attack.  Their service and ultimate sacrifices embody our values, and they will live on forever in our hearts and minds.  As we honor their memory, so must we plan to resume our military training missions at Pensacola and around the country.

But, getting back to work does not mean getting back to business as usual.  Going forward, we will put several new policies and security procedures in place to protect our people, our programs and our installations.  These include new restrictions on international military students for possession and use of firearms, and control measures for limiting their access to military installations and U.S. government facilities.  We will also impose new standards for training and education on detecting and reporting insider threats, and establish new vetting procedures that include capabilities for continuous monitoring of international military students while enrolled in U.S.-based training programs.  All current and future students will be required to acknowledge their willingness to abide by these standards, committing to full compliance with all U.S. laws on and off duty as a condition of their enrollment. 

When these procedures are in place, the military departments will be authorized to fully resume the training that has been suspended since the attack in Pensacola.  The new policies will be applicable to all current and future student populations, and the Secretary of Defense will receive regular updates on implementation and compliance from the secretaries of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.  Thank you.