|Sheikh Nael Mossran (screenshot courtesy MEMRI)
In a Friday sermon on Dec. 22, Palestinian Sheikh Nael Mossran praised Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, who killed three U.S. service members and injured eight at the Pensacola Naval Station in a Dec. 6 shooting, before he was killed by local deputies.
Mossran’s sermon was delivered at the Al-Huda Mosque in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, and uploaded to his YouTube channel.
Mossran said Alshamrani had felt overcome with compassion for the Islamic nation and that the last thing Alshamrani said had been that America is a nation of evil.
“[People] started to paint this young man as a criminal [and] calling him evil, criminal, and backward… as if America spread flowers in every country its air force has been through,” Mossran said, adding that the United States is waging an organized crusade against Islam that can only be stopped by an organized Islam and by Jihad for the sake of Allah.
He said after the shooting the world started donating to America and disapprovingly noted that some Muslims “even declared that the Florida criminal does not represent them.”
His sermon was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute TV Monitor Project, a watchdog group that monitors what jihadists say in Arabic when they are not addressing Western audiences.
Alshamrani, 21, was a second lieutenant in the Saudi air force and was in a program where the U.S. military helps train foreign officers. He started training with the U.S. military in 2017 and was scheduled to finish next August.
After the shooting, it was reported that he had hosted a dinner party a few days earlier where he and other students watched videos of mass shootings, and one of those other three students filmed him during the attack, while two other Saudi students watched from a nearby car.
A Twitter post on an account linked to Alshamrani just a few hours before the shooting expressed that he does not hate Americans for their freedom, but for supporting and funding “crimes not only against Muslims but also humanity,” with invasions of Muslim countries and support for Israel.
Online messages from groups linked to ISIS and Al-Qaeda called him a martyr, with a pro-ISIS group administrator publishing a poster of an apocalyptic scene with the comment “Florida is just the beginning,” according to MEMRI.
One of those killed in the attack was Joshua Kaleb Watson of Alabama, who rushed Alshamrani when the shooting started, then after being wounded managed to exit the building and provide critical information to first responders.
Watson was a champion marksman, but service members are not allowed to carry firearms on base.