Pensacola NAS Investigation Update

Law enforcement officials discovered contacts between Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani and operatives of al-Qaida after FBI technicians succeeded on their own in breaking into two cellphones that had previously been locked and that the shooter, a Saudi Air Force officer, had tried to destroy before he was killed by law enforcement.


Today, the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced additional findings about the shooting on Dec. 6, 2019 at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

This was a tragic day for our military and our deepest condolences are still with the friends and families of Ensign Joshua Watson, Airman Mohammed Haitham, Airman Cameron Walters, and with the eight others wounded in this terrorist attack.

Law enforcement officials discovered contacts between Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani and operatives of al-Qaida after FBI technicians succeeded on their own in breaking into two cellphones that had previously been locked and that the shooter, a Saudi Air Force officer, had tried to destroy before he was killed by law enforcement.

The new information provided by Director Wray and Attorney General Barr underscores the threats to our nation posed by al-Qa’ida (Al-Qaeda) and its affiliates and highlights the necessity of the security measures we take every day to protect the American people, our interests and our friends – as well as those that defend our nation.

”The Department of Defense is incredibly grateful for the diligent work by the FBI team investigating this horrific attack that took the lives of three American patriots,” said Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark. Esper. ”Based on the FBI findings, and in addition to already executed protective measures, the Department will take further prudent and effective measures to safeguard our people.”  

In response to this terrorist attack, the Department of Defense took immediate action, ordering a stop to all International Military Student operational training at U.S. installations and directing a review of all vetting and security procedures. 

In January Secretary Esper went to Pensacola and met with Navy leadership and with flight training students and first responders to hear first-hand the accounts of those on the scene. 

Within two weeks of the tragedy, the Secretary approved an extensive list of findings and recommendations and directed immediate implementation across all the military Services. These include additional measures for background checks and new physical security procedures, specifically:

  • New restrictions on IMS possession and use of firearms and ammunition.
  • New control measures for limiting IMS access to military installations and U.S. government facilities.
  • New standards for training and education on detecting and reporting insider threats.
  • Establishment of new vetting procedures that include capabilities for continuous monitoring of IMS while enrolled in U.S.-based training programs.
  • Acknowledgement of willingness to abide by these standards, committing to full compliance with all U.S. laws on-and off-duty.

We continue to work with the FBI as they uncover more information pertaining to the terrorist, his links with al-Qaida (Al-Qaeda), and the methods he used to conceal this from us. At the same time, we continue to review our procedures to identify any additional vetting and security measures we can adopt.

Despite this tragic event, our military partnerships and the international military student program remain strong and are a vital component of our National Defense. 

Security cooperation directly contributes to U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives by helping allies and partners improve their defense capabilities and enhance their ability to participate in missions alongside U.S. forces. 

We will continue to work closely with them to counter the threats of international terrorism and protect our freedom.

Defense.gov (May 2020) Naval Air Station Pensacola Investigation Update

Pensacola Executive Sentenced To 40 Months In Federal Prison For Conspiring With Foreign Nationals To Ship Technology To Iran

Pensacola business owner James P. Meharg, 60, was sentenced to 40 months in prison on federal charges of conspiring to sell and export power generating equipment to a recipient in Iran


United States Attorney Lawrence Keefe, of the Northern District of Florida, announced on Sunday that Pensacola business owner James P. Meharg, 60, was sentenced to 40 months in prison on federal charges of conspiring to sell and export power generating equipment to a recipient in Iran, and concealing the scheme, as well as having payments routed to Meharg via a foreign country. Meharg, CEO and president of Turbine Resources International, LLC, in Pensacola, conspired with citizens of the United Kingdom and Iran to export a large turbine and parts from the United States to an Iranian recipient, in violation of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations as well as federal criminal law.

Meharg, a U.S. citizen, conspired from October 1, 2017, to June 12, 2019, to violate the Iranian embargo by attempting to export a Solar Mars 90 S turbine core engine and parts from the United States, for delivery to an end user in Iran.

Evidence revealed that on April 25, 2018, Meharg sent an invoice for $500,000 to a conspirator in the United Kingdom and received two partial payments of $124,950 each, on May 7 and May 24, 2018, at least one of which was routed through a company in Dubai.

In total, Meharg received approximately $250,000 in funds laundered through foreign accounts as payment for having the turbine sent to Iran. Law enforcement authorities, however, were able to seize the turbine before its transatlantic journey to the end user in Iran. That end user, a conspirator in Iran, is linked to an Iranian energy company. Meharg also falsified documents used to lawfully export items from the United States.

“Exporting technology to Iran is prohibited by law in order to protect the national security interests of the United States of America, and this defendant chose to put his own self-interest and greed above such interests,” Keefe said. “Federal imprisonment should send a clear signal that
the United States cannot and will not look the other way when one of its citizens endangers the safety of our nation.”

“Today’s sentence sends a strong message that trade with Iran in violation of U.S. export control laws and regulations will not be tolerated,’ said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement, Douglas Hassebrock. “The Bureau of Industry and Security will vigorously pursue parties that seek to profit from illegally supplying materials to Iran.”

Assistant United States Attorney David L. Goldberg, who is a National Security Cyber Specialist, prosecuted the case following a joint investigation by the United States Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“This case serves as a reminder to anyone who acts as an agent of the Iranian government in the United States, that American law enforcement is relentless in our efforts to protect the national security of this country and the freedoms of our citizens,” said Rachel L. Rojas, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Jacksonville Division. “The FBI was proud to support our partners at the Department of Commerce – Bureau of Industry and Security in this case, and we are committed to disrupting any similar actions by individuals on behalf of Iran in the future.”

Meharg’s prison sentence will be followed by three years of federal supervised release. He was also ordered to forfeit a monetary judgment in the amount of $250,000.00.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. To access public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of
Florida 
website. For more information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html.

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