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Technology Saudi shooter in Florida air base attack had "significant ties" to al Qaeda

23:20  18 may  2020
23:20  18 may  2020 Source:   cbsnews.com

FBI finds evidence of al Qaeda tie to 2019 Florida naval base shooting -U.S. source

  FBI finds evidence of al Qaeda tie to 2019 Florida naval base shooting -U.S. source The FBI has found cellphone evidence linking al Qaeda to the Dec. 6, 2019 shooting at a U.S. naval base in Florida in which three people were killed, a federal law enforcement source said on Monday. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); The shooter, Second Lieutenant Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, 21, had been a member of the Royal Saudi Air Force.He was on the base as part of a U.S. Navy training program designed to foster links with foreign allies. He was killed by law enforcement during the attack.

Washington — The FBI and Department of Justice said a Saudi gunman who killed three U.S. service members in an attack at a Navy air station in Florida last December had "significant ties" to al Qaeda, citing new evidence gleaned from iPhones the FBI was able to unlock after months of trying.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Shooting On Naval Air Station Pensacola Leaves Multiple Dead And Injured © Josh Brasted / Getty Images Shooting On Naval Air Station Pensacola Leaves Multiple Dead And Injured

The gunman was identified as 21-year-old Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a Saudi national who was training at Naval Air Station Pensacola. He opened fire inside a classroom on December 6, 2019, killing three and wounding two sheriff's deputies before being shot and killed.

FBI finds al Qaeda link after breaking encryption on Pensacola attacker's iPhone

  FBI finds al Qaeda link after breaking encryption on Pensacola attacker's iPhone The Saudi military trainee who killed three US sailors and wounded several others in a terror attack last year on a military base in Pensacola, Florida, was a longtime associate of al Qaeda who had communicated with operatives from the group as recently as the night before the shooting, the Justice Department and the FBI announced Monday. © Josh Brasted/Getty Images North America/Getty Images PENSACOLA, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 06: A general view of the atmosphere at the Pensacola Naval Air Station main gate following a shooting on December 06, 2019 in Pensacola, Florida. The second shooting on a U.S.

At a press conference Monday, Attorney General William Barr said the FBI was able to gain access to Alshamrani's iPhones, which the gunman had tried to destroy during the attack.

"The FBI finally succeeded in unlocking Alshamrani's phones. The phones contain information previously unknown to us that definitively establishes Alshamrani's significant ties to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — not only before the attack, but before he even arrived in the United States," Barr said, referring to the terrorist group's affiliate in Yemen, known as AQAP. The group claimed responsibility for the attack in February.

Data on iPhones is encrypted, and they're designed so only the owner can unlock the device if it's protected with a passcode. Neither Barr nor Wray revealed details about how the FBI was ultimately able to gain access to the phones four months after the attack. Barr said the Justice Department and the president himself asked Apple for help in gaining access to the devices, but the company "would not help us unlock the phones."

AG Barr seeks 'legislative solution' to make companies unlock phones

  AG Barr seeks 'legislative solution' to make companies unlock phones Last December, a Saudi Arabian cadet training with the US military opened fire at Naval Air Station Pensacola, killing three soldiers and wounding eight others. The FBI recovered two iPhones, and after failing to access their data, asked Apple to unlock them. The company refused, but eventually the FBI unlocked at least one of them without Apple’s help, and discovered substantial ties between the shooter and terrorist group al Qaeda. US Attorney General Barr suggests forcing Apple to take action in the future, saying “...if not for our FBI’s ingenuity, some luck, and hours upon hours of time and resources, this information would have remained undiscovered.

"There's a lot we can't do at this point that we could have done, months ago," Wray added. Barr said the effort to access the phones "took over four months and large sums of taxpayer dollars to obtain evidence that should have been easily and quickly accessible when we obtained court orders."

In a statement later Monday, Apple said it gave the FBI information "just hours after the attack," including account details, transaction data and iCloud backups. The company said it doesn't store users' passcodes and doesn't have the ability to unlock protected devices, while reiterating its opposition to the creation of a so-called "backdoor" to allow law enforcement to access encrypted data.

"It is because we take our responsibility to national security so seriously that we do not believe in the creation of a backdoor — one which will make every device vulnerable to bad actors who threaten our national security and the data security of our customers," the Apple statement said. "There is no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys, and the American people do not have to choose between weakening encryption and effective investigations."

Barr Dismisses Trump’s Claim That Russia Inquiry Was an Obama Plot

  Barr Dismisses Trump’s Claim That Russia Inquiry Was an Obama Plot Attorney General William P. Barr dismissed President Trump’s attempts to rebrand the Russia investigation as a criminal plot engineered by former President Barack Obama, saying on Monday that he expected no charges against either Mr. Obama or former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as a result of an investigation into how their administration handled Russian election interference. © Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times Attorney General William P. Barr noted there was a difference between abusing power and violating the law. “As long as I’m attorney general, the criminal justice system will not be used for partisan political ends,” Mr.

Wray said evidence "shows that the Pensacola attack was actually the brutal culmination of years of planning and preparation by a longtime AQAP associate." The attorney general said the information gleaned from Alshamrani's devices provided intelligence that led to a recent strike on an AQAP leader in Yemen.

Wray said the evidence from Alshamrani's phones did not reveal any other current threats in the U.S., but said the investigation is going. "It's important that Americans not get complacent because the threat is real, it's still here and we're determined to thwart it," Wray said.

Barr said in January that the shooting was an act of terrorism but that Alshamrani acted alone during the attack itself.

Alshamrani was a cadet in a U.S. program to train members of the Royal Saudi Air Force. The program was suspended in the aftermath of the shooting, and an earlier Justice Department investigation found 21 Saudi trainees possessed "derogatory material" including jihadist or anti-American content on their social media profiles and were sent back to the kingdom.

Andres Triay contributed reporting.

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The State Department is repeating pre-9/11 mistakes .
In the years preceding the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, the White House and State Department were willfully blind to the consequence of Saudi promotion of extremism. No one doubted that the Saudi government as a whole and members of the royal family individually were donating vast sums of money to extremist groups, but the Saudi charm offensive worked. Prince Bandar, the Kingdom’s ambassador to the United States from 1983 to 2005, was a personal friend and confidant to a succession of presidents, both Democrat and Republican. His job was to run interference, and he did it well.

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