Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Saudi national accused of killing an American defense contractor and injuring another in a shootout in the capital Riyadh on Tuesday was a former colleague who had previously worked with the two men at Vinnell Arabia, a US-based defense contractor.
Speaking to reporters, Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki identified the alleged attacker as Abdulaziz Al-Rashed, 25, adding that incident, which took place at a gas station in eastern Riyadh, was not being treated as a terrorist attack.
Saudi and US officials said a man had opened fire on a vehicle belonging to two US nationals at a gas station close to the King Fahd international Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.
A third US national escaped the attack unharmed, while Rashed was arrested at the scene. Saudi sources said that the alleged attack was the result of a personal dispute between the Saudi national and a former colleague, adding that he had been dismissed from his job at Vinnell Arabia over behavioral issues, though a statement issued by the Saudi Embassy claimed that Rashed had been dismissed from his position due to “drug-related issues,” according to local media.
Sources close to the investigation informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the motive for the attack was suspected to be “revenge” although it is unclear at this time whether Vinnell Arabia or specific contractors working for the company was the target.
A Saudi security official, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media, said: “Security officers swarmed the areas but the attacker refused to surrender and fired on the security officers who returned fire, injuring him and arresting him.”
US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki confirmed that the two shooting victims were employees of Vinnell Arabia. “We are in close contact with the Saudi government as we continue to gather details about the shooting and motive,” she said.
Vinnell Arabia, partly-owned by the US-registered Northrop Grumman Corp, has assisted in the training of Saudi National Guard troops since 1975, and presently has approximately 1,250 employees, including US and Saudi nationals.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Northrop Grumman said: “As a long-term partner in Saudi Arabia, we offer our deepest sympathies to the family members of both Vinnell Arabia employees involved in the incident . . . We continue to support the Vinnell leadership as they work with Saudi authorities and the State Department on this matter.”