Attorney General William Barr said on Monday the FBI found cellphone evidence linking al Qaeda to the Royal Saudi Air Force trainee who killed three American sailors in a December attack at a U.S. naval base in Florida.
The shooter, Second Lieutenant Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, 21, was on the base as part of a U.S. Navy training program designed to foster links with foreign allies, was killed by law enforcement during the Dec. 6, 2019 attack.
The Justice Department succeeded in unlocking the encryption on the shooter’s iPhone after Apple Inc declined to do so, Barr told reporters on a conference call. “The information from the phone has already proved invaluable,” Barr said.
Earlier this year, Barr accused Apple of failing to help the FBI to get Alshamrani’s two cellphones unlocked, an allegation Apple staunchly denied.
In February, an audio recording purporting to be from the Islamist militant group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the fatal attack, but it provided no evidence.
“The evidence we have been able to develop, shows that the Pensacola attack was actually the brutal culmination of years of planning,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said.
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