By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Squeezed right between the COVID Capers and the murder of George Floyd was an incident that occurred at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi in Texas. The acts of heroism that took out a terrorist have been responded to by the media with the sound of crickets, i.e. such a comparative level of quiet that the chirp of the country bugs at night is all one hears.
To recap briefly, on May 21, a twenty-year-old man from Syria by the name of Adam Alsahli tried to storm the North Gate of the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station. He fired at a female sailor who was guarding the gate, and hit her. Thankfully, she sustained only minor injuries because she was wearing protective gear, but she was knocked down. In spite of that, she was able to quickly roll and hit the button that threw up a barrier and prevented Alsahli from entering the base. The gate team then took out the would-be jihadist, and God only knows how many lives were saved that day.
Naval Air Station (NAS) Corpus Christi houses the four squadrons of Training Air Wing Four. The Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and foreign student pilots train at the base. They use Truax Field on base and as well as outlying airfields for their training.
NAS Corpus Christi also serves as home to an Army depot which serves as the primary maintenance facility for Department of Defense rotary-wing aircraft. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service also operates from Naval Air Station Corpus Christi. In a word, a lot could have gone wrong here that would have harmed several branches had the sailor at the gate not been so quick-thinking.
It needs to be noted that Alsahli’s social media accounts weighed in as being in support of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The FBI is the agency running the investigation due to Alsahli being an “Arab male,” and they combined forces with Corpus Christi police to conduct a raid on his home. So far the attack is being called “terrorism related.” The Corpus Christi attack occurred a few days after US Attorney General William Barr released his conclusion that the shooting which occurred at the Pensacola Naval Air Base in December of 2019 was “an act of terrorism” as well; and in that case, Royal Saudi Air Force 2nd Lt Ahmed Mohammed Alshamrani was a part of AQAP. In the Pensacola incident, three sailors were killed. It was the messages on two IPhones belonging to Alshamrani that provided the proof of the link to Al-Qaeda. The Royal Saudi Air Force lieutenant was able to get access to Pensacola because he was a foreign military student assigned there. Were these guys working together? That has not been determined, and there is apparently a second person of interest in the Corpus incident with no details available at present.
The FBI office in Houston issued the following statement: “The heroic actions of the Master-at-Arms Petty Officer 2nd Class who risked her life and did not hesitate to engage the subject, as well as the actions of the Navy Security Forces, likely stopped what could have been a much more deadly attack.”
That team is going to receive a number of commendations and awards, and for that, I am grateful because clearly they deserve it. My question however is, “Why did such heroism go essentially unacknowledged?”
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner