This undated extradition photo provided by Del Mar College, Texas, shows Adam Alsahli̵
The suspect who was shot dead as he carried out Thursday’s ‘terrorist attack’ on a Texas naval base has been identified by the FBI as a 20-year-old Syrian-born college student.
According to investigators, Adam Salim Alsahli opened fire on Naval Air Station Corpus Christi in an attack that wounded a sailor, a member of the base security force, but none other than the assailant was killed.
A group monitoring the online activity of jihadists has since claimed that Alsahli expressed support for tough Islamic clerics on social media ahead of the disrupted attack.
Alsahli lived in Corpus Christi and had been a business traveler at a local community college. A law enforcement official familiar with the investigation said Alsahli was a native of Syria who had U.S. citizenship.
Del Mar College provided a photo to the Associated Press on Friday showing Alsahli as depicted on his student identification card.
The shooter tried to speed through a security gate at the base at about 10 p.m. 06.15, open fire and wounded the seaman. But she was able to roll around and hit a switch that lifted a barrier, preventing Alsahli from entering the base, officials said.
Other security personnel then opened fire on the attacker, killing him.
There was a first concern that Alshali may have had an explosion facility, but naval experts swept the area and the car and found nothing.
The FBI is investigating posts on social media that investigators believe were made by the 20-year-old who expressed support for extremist groups such as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, said two officials familiar with the investigation.
FBI investigators said the shooting incident at a Texas naval station Thursday morning was a “terrorist” attack
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Friday on ‘The Today Show’ that the injured sailor is doing well. ‘He also said the FBI knows the basics of what happened during the attack, but works through details, including about the suspect.
“We hope to know more in the coming days about what happened, what this person was motivated by,” Esper said. “But we have to let the facts out, let the investigators do their jobs, and we’ll see where this ends.”
Social media accounts that matched Alsahli’s profile on Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp supported support for hardline priests, mostly from Saudi Arabia, and jihadi figures such as Ibrahim al-Rabaysh, who had been a spokesman for the Yemen branch in Al Qaeda , and was killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2015 according to Rita Katz, director of the SITE Intelligence Group.
Katz tweeted a translated version of a passage posted on Alsahli’s Twitter page, which read: ‘I love Mujahidin [sic], I am not one of them, and my sword is aimed at the throat of the one who doubts them (stabs them). ‘
Corpus Christi police SWAT and FBI agents surround a home near Saratoga Boulevard Thursday, possibly related to the attack on the naval base
Alsahli had been a student at Del Mar College, a community college in Corpus Christi, according to a statement Friday from school spokeswoman Melinda Eddleman. He had been a business manager and had attended courses in Fall 2018, Spring 2019 and Fall 2019 semesters.
A search of corpus records in Corpus Christi revealed that Alsahli had received a traffic ticket in August for failing to surrender. The ticket was rejected in January after Alsahli took a driver’s safety course.
FBI surveillance Senior Resident Agent Leah Greeves said at a news conference Thursday that investigators were working to determine if another person of interest was large but did not elaborate.
She also would not discuss a potential motive or specify what led investigators to believe the shooting was related to terrorism.
“We have determined that the incident at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi is terror-related,” Greeves said. “We are working intensively with our state, local and federal partners on this exploration, which is fluid and evolving.”
Later, federal agents were seen carrying items from inside a house that a Corpus Christi political tactical unit had surrounded, and a public registry search by local television station KRIS indicated was Alsahli’s last known address. A police spokesman would not confirm the activity was related to the shooting at the naval station.
The FBI field office in Houston has taken the lead in the investigation, and neither investigators nor the Navy provided information about the shooter or a possible motive. Attorney General William Barr has also been briefed, a Justice Department spokesman said.
The injured sailor was discharged from a hospital where she was treated for minor injuries, according to a statement from the command.
Officials said the shooting was near the North Gate around 1 p.m. 06.15 and immediately locked the base
A short time later, the shooter was “neutralized,” base officials said in a statement. Police at the incident site Thursday morning
The shooter was reported at the North Gate (star on the far right) according to Navy officials
The naval station had an almost identical incident in February 2019 when a man was driving a stolen vehicle through a checkpoint at the base before crashing down Ocean Drive. The suspect was also fatally shot.
In another incident at the base in 2019, a man pleaded guilty to destruction of U.S. government property and possession of a stolen firearm for striking his truck in a barricade at Corpus Christi station.
Pensacola base gunman coordinated with al Qaeda
Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, who was shot dead by law enforcement after he opened fire at Naval Air Base Station in Pensacola on December 6, posted his intentions in a note dated September 6.
He murdered three American sailors and wounded eight others at the base.
The 21-year-old military intern’s note was found by the FBI on one of his two iPhones after the agency spent months breaking the encryption to protect the devices.
The FBI on Monday released screenshots of the note, revealing that they discovered that Alshamrani had been in contact with al-Qaeda operatives.
Attorney General Bill Barr announced Monday that the FBI had finally gained access to Alshamrani’s two iPhones after months of work breaking their encryption.
Alshamrani had tried to destroy one of the phones by shooting a bullet at it before he was killed.
According to the Navy, the facility is located on the Texas Gulf Coast approx. 220 miles from Houston.
The base employs more than 9,700 full-time employees, including 1,900 Navy and Marine employees.
Corpus Christi shooting comes just days after Attorney General William Barr linked Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a shooter who killed three sailors during a December 2019 attack at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida, to al-Qaeda.
Law enforcement officials discovered contacts between Alshamrani and operatives in al-Qaeda after FBI technicians managed to break into two cell phones previously locked and that the shooter, a Saudi Air Force officer, had attempted to destroy before being killed by a sheriff’s deputy.
“We now have a clearer understanding of Alshamrani’s associations and activities in the years, months and days leading up to his attack,” Barr said at a news conference Tuesday.
Law enforcement officials had previously left no doubt that Alshamrani was motivated by jihadist ideology, saying he visited a New York City memorial on the September 11, 2001, attacks over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Authorities said Alshamrani also posted anti-American and anti-Israeli messages on social media just hours before the shooting.
Separately, AQAP, al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, released a video claiming the attack. AQAP has long been considered the most dangerous branch of the global network.