Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani Linked To al-Qaida Months After Pensacola Naval Base Attack
Attorney General William Barr announced on Monday that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) had finally cracked the iPhone of the man who killed three American sailors in December 2019. Moreover, authorities found the device had evidence on it that linked the killer to the terrorist organization al-Qaida.
According to Reuters, Barr claimed on a morning conference call that the data garnered from the iPhone had been critical in getting evidence against the killer, Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani.
“The information from the phone has already proved invaluable,” Barr said.
Alshamrani, a Royal Saudi Air Force trainee, had been in Florida as a member of a U.S. Navy training program that serves to create stronger links with foreign allies. Despite the intense vetting of all foreign trainees, Alshamrani managed to fall through the cracks and eventually shot 11 people — wounding eight and killing three — before being killed himself by law enforcement.
FBI director Christopher Wray echoed Barr’s comments, adding specific details of what officials had learned about Alshamrani’s plans.
“The evidence we have been able to develop… shows that the Pensacola attack was actually the brutal culmination of years of planning,” Wray stated, adding that it appeared Alshamrani had been radicalized as far back as 2015.
The iPhone was also able to confirm the motive for Alshamrani’s assault. Though al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the attack at the time, the assertion remained unverified until material on Alshamrani’s phone corroborated the link.
Barr added the mobile device was also able to show the Saudi government was unaware of the planned attack.
Though the focus of the call was on the Saudi trainee, Barr also voiced his censure of technology giant Apple, which had reportedly refused to cooperate with law enforcement and unlock Alshamrani’s phone.
Barr called on lawmakers to pass legislation that would force Apple and other tech companies to work with the FBI and other agencies to break encryption during criminal investigations.
“Apple’s decision has dangerous consequences,” the attorney general warned.
“Many of the technology companies that advocate most loudly for warrant-proof encryption… are at the same time willing to accommodate authoritarian regimes,” he added.
Apple has since rejected those claims, stating they did not agree with “the characterization” and had in fact given “substantive assistance” to the FBI.
Al-Qaida is not the only terrorist organization to have recently made the news. The Islamic State has also won headlines after conducting a series of attacks on the Iraqi border with Iranian weapons, as was previously reported by The Inquisitr.