After months of trying to break into the encrypted iPhone of the Pensacola, Florida naval base shooter - Saudi Arabian national Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, the FBI was able to access information on the device and discovered a contact with a suspected al-Qaeda operative, according to Bloomberg.
Access to the data was obtained via alternate methods after Apple, Inc. refused to help the DOJ.
The alleged link to al-Qaeda is also significant because it suggests the terrorist organization is still able to encourage, and possibly direct, operations in the U.S. almost two decades after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
The Trump administration asked Apple in January for help unlocking a pair of iPhones belonging to the shooter, Mohammed Alshamrani, a 21-year-old 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force. Alshamrani was killed by law enforcement responding to the attack. -Bloomberg
Alshamrani, a Saudi Air Force lieutenant who shot and killed three people at Naval station Pensacola the day after hanging out with friends - also Saudi military trainees - who were watching mass shooting videos the night before and filmed the attack the next day, was killed in the attack after law enforcement responded to the incident.
Alshamrani and the three friends visited New York City in the days leading up to the shooting - visiting several museums and Rockefeller Center, according to the New York Times.
BREAKING: Tweet by #Pensacola attacker Alshamrani suggests terrorist motive. Does not claim allegiance to any group, but echos Bin Laden: "The security is a shared destiny...You will not be safe until we live it as reality in [Palestine], and American troops get out of our land." pic.twitter.com/KALH4PXYKy— Rita Katz (@Rita_Katz) December 7, 2019
On Monday, Attorney General William Barr acknowledged that the FBI was successful in accessing Alshamrani's iPhone, saying that the information obtained establishes "significant ties" to Al-Qaeda "in the Arabian Peninsula, not only before the attack, but be fore he arrived in the U.S."