– by Siraj Wahab, Arab News
Jeddah: The man responsible for shooting two American defense contractors near King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh on Tuesday has been identified as Abdul Aziz Al-Rashid, a US-born Saudi national. One American died while the other was unharmed.
Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki said the 24-year-old Al-Rashid worked with American defense contractor Vinnell Arabia before he was sacked for drug-related issues. Both Americans worked at Vinnell Arabia.
The shooting took place at a gas station close to the company’s base. Security forces arrived quickly on the scene and apprehended Al-Rashid following an exchange of fire in which he was wounded.
According to a report on Al-Arabiya television’s website, Al-Rashid has a criminal record. American police reportedly arrested him for driving under the influence of banned substances in Boise, Idaho, in mid-2011.
Al-Turki said nothing in Al-Rashid’s record indicated any affiliation with any extremist group.
Vinnell Arabia operates under a longstanding contract to provide training services to the Saudi National Guard.
A statement posted on Saudi Embassy’s website in Washington said Al-Rashid traveled to the US, France, Germany, the UAE and, most recently to, Bahrain in October 2014.
“The investigation is ongoing and the relevant authorities will reveal details as they emerge,” said the statement.
American expatriates in the Kingdom expressed relief at the immediate arrest of the man.
“If what we have been told is correct, then it is comforting to know that this act was not related to terrorism,” said Stephen Johnson, a consultant with a petrochemical company. “Saudi security forces have been rather swift in arresting the man.”
He said he was swamped with calls from home to enquire about his well-being. “My folks were naturally concerned after hearing it on television, and I told them everything is fine,” he said.
As a sign of confidence, the US Embassy in Riyadh posted a message for its citizens on its website on Wednesday stating: “As of 12 noon Wednesday, the embassy authorizes its personnel to resume movements off of the Diplomatic Quarter. The investigation into Tuesday’s shooting of US citizens is ongoing.”
The embassy advised its citizens “to maintain vigilance and employ good security awareness.”