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Hamadeh says it's 'time to suspend foreign military student training in the US'

In 2019 at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, a Saudi Air Force aviation student killed three U.S. Navy service members.

Published: November 12, 2023 2:01pm

Arizona Republican congressional candidate Abraham Hamadeh said Sunday that the United States needs to stop training foreign military students in America amid escalating Middle East tensions. 

"The United States has a long history of hosting foreign military students but the programs must be monitored. The risks associated with such programs have become increasingly evident, with the Pensacola terrorist attack serving as the most tragic reminder of what can happen when America lets its guard down," he wrote in an opinion piece titled, "Putting America First: It’s Time to Suspend Foreign Military Student Training in the US," for Townhall.

In 2019 at the Naval Air Station Pensacola in Pensacola, Fla., Saudi Air Force aviation student Mohammed Alshamrani opened fire, killing three U.S. Navy service members and injuring several other people. 

In response to the attack, then-President Donald Trump removed all Saudi Arabian foreign military students from the U.S. and suspended future training programs pending new guidelines. 

Hamadeh said he was deployed for more than a year to Saudi Arabia with the U.S. Army Reserve after the attack and one of his main jobs was to restart the program with enhanced security measures. 

"While many participants in these programs are committed to their training and international cooperation, it only takes one individual with nefarious intent to pose a significant threat," Hamadeh wrote. "Even with the new enhanced screening that I helped implement, the procedures are not foolproof. Additionally, given the potential for radicalization after enrollment, especially with the attacks by Hamas on Israel, we must suspend this program."

Many of the governments that send military students to the U.S. for training espouse anti-Israel and pro-Hamas propaganda, especially following the Oct. 7 terror attack in Israel that saw about 1,200 people killed, including more than 30 U.S. citizens. 

"The Department of Defense should suspend the current programs and look to strengthen all their vetting and screening processes immediately," Hamadeh also said.

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