Saudi Suspect in Slaying of American Had Been Fired for 'Drug-Related Issues'

PHOTO: Saudi Arabias capital Riyadh is seen in this undated file photo.Getty Images
Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh is seen in this undated file photo.

The dual Saudi-American citizen who allegedly shot two Americans in Saudi Arabia today, one of them fatally, was recently dismissed from his job because of “drug-related issues” at the same U.S. defense contractor that employed the shooting victims, according to the Saudi Embassy in Washington.

“The assailant, Abdulaziz Fahad Abdulaziz Alrashid, was apprehended following a shootout with Saudi security forces during which he was wounded,” according to an embassy statement. “Alrashid worked at the same company as the victims, and was recently dismissed from his job due to drug related issues.“

The U.S. contractor, Vinnell Arabia, supports Saudi National Guard military programs. In a statement to ABC News, a spokesman for the subsidiary of 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 Dept. on this matter.”

Vinnell Arabia is “the market leader in U.S. military doctrine-based training, logistics, and support services inside Saudi Arabia," according to its LinkedIn page. "We provide unparalleled training and simulation services for defense, national security as well as fire and emergency medical response.”

The shooting suspect, 24, who was born in Washington state, had traveled to Bahrain, France, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, the United States and, most recently, again to Bahrain earlier this month, the embassy said.

Meanwhile, officials have issued a “security message” to U.S. citizens in Saudi Arabia, according to the U.S. State Department.

The two men were shot at a gas station-store less than a mile from the Vinnell Arabia base in Riyadh, which is located about 20 miles from the U.S. Embassy, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

“We are in the process of evaluating our security posture and will take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of all U.S. Mission personnel,” she said. “Our Embassy is issuing a security message to U.S. citizens to advise them on the situation and any safety precautions they should take.”

The gunman opened fire on a car stopped at a gas station near the King Fahd stadium, in the east of the Saudi capital, police say.

Neither American has been named and there is no known motive at this time.

Psaki described the surviving man as “lightly injured,” adding that police have a suspect in custody. “We are in close contact with the Saudi government as we continue to gather details about the shooting and motive,” she said.

Another colleague who was with the two men was uninjured, according to the Saudi Embassy.

As for the U.S. State Department “security message,” spokeswoman Psaki said it is used to “communicate information about personal security threats of a general or systemic nature, such as crime trends, demonstrations, peaceful actions intended to disrupt normal activity, or localized events not likely to affect large numbers of U.S. citizens.”

“Such messages are regularly issued by embassies and consulates abroad to provide timely and important safety and security information to U.S. citizens living or traveling in their districts.”

The last major terrorist attack against foreigners was in 2007 when gunmen killed three French nationals while on a camping trip in Madain Saleh, in the northwest of the country. But as the U.S. State Department noted in the most recent travel warning, “security threats are ongoing and terrorist groups, some affiliated with al-Qaida may target both Saudi and Western interests. Possible targets include housing compounds, hotels, shopping areas and other facilities where Westerners congregate, as well as Saudi government facilities and economic/commercial targets within the Kingdom.”