Pentagon: Saudi nationals training with Navy at NAS Jacksonville, Mayport will remain

Pentagon: Saudi nationals training with Navy at NAS Jacksonville, Mayport will remain

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Pentagon said Monday none of the Saudi Arabian nationals training with local sailors in Jacksonville will be sent home.

Monday, the FBI announced 21 Saudis are being kicked out of the country.

In December, a 21-year-old Saudi national killed three sailors at NAS Pensacola in what is now being called an act of terror. The FBI said he injured eight others.

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That launched an FBI investigation which found those 21 Saudis had connections to extreme teachings and child pornography, but no evidence they knew about the attack beforehand.

Action News Jax confirmed Monday that the Saudis at NAS Jacksonville and Mayport are in classroom training for the time being.

Retired Navy Adm. Bob Natter said we shouldn’t stop our joint training.

“We need allies. You can’t do this alone,” Natter said. “Certainly, the record shows [this shooting was] very isolated. That’s fact. But, having said that, we learn from it, we do a better job of ensuring that the parent country looks at the people that they send over to us.”

Last April, Action News Jax got exclusive access to the Saudi training program at Mayport. More than 300 members of the Royal Saudi Navy were working closely with our local sailors.

The Pentagon has decided to keep this program in place, despite the tragedy that now looms over it.