January 13, 2020 – In Breaking News – The Washington Post
Attorney General William P. Barr said Monday that the December shooting that killed three U.S. sailors on a Florida base was an act of terrorism, as officials revealed harrowing new details about the 15-minute rampage and publicly called out Apple Inc. to help them unlock the killer’s phones.
At a news conference to discuss the results of the FBI’s investigation into the shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Barr said investigators had found evidence that Ahmed Mohammed al-Shamrani, a Royal Saudi Air Force member training at the base, was motivated by “jihadist ideology,” and he posted anti-American messages on social media about two hours before his attack.
(More than a dozen Saudi military personnel training in the U.S. are being expelled following an investigation into a shooting rampage at a Florida military base that killed three American service members, multiple media outlets reported. Eight others were wounded in the Dec. 6 attack at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Courtesy of USA TODAY and YouTube. Posted on Jan 13, 2020.)
FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich said that during the attack, al-Shamrani fired shots at pictures of President Trump and a past U.S. president, and witnesses at the scene said he made statements critical of American military actions overseas.
Bowdich said that while al-Shamrani did not seem to be inspired by one specific terrorist group, he harbored anti-American and anti-Israel views and felt “violence was necessary.”
Bowdich said the gunman’s social media comments echoed those of Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Yemeni American cleric tied to the terror group al-Qaeda who was killed in a drone strike in 2011.
Monday’s announcement offered the most definitive account of the gunman’s actions and thinking.
(FBI confirms NAS Pensacola mass shooter is Mohammed Alshamrani. Courtesy of FOX10 News – WALA and YouTube. Posted on Dec 8, 2020.)
Bowdich said investigators had interviewed more than 500 people — including witnesses, base personnel, and friends and classmates of the shooter — and collected more than 42 terabytes of digital information.
But investigators have been stymied in trying to access two key pieces of evidence — the gunman’s iPhones.
Standing before giant photographs of two severely damaged devices, the attorney general publicly urged Apple to act.
“So far Apple has not given us any substantive assistance,” Barr said, though aides later clarified that Apple had, in fact, given investigators access to cloud data linked to the gunman.
“This situation perfectly illustrates why it is critical that investigators be able to get access to digital evidence once they have obtained a court order.”
Barr did not say whether the Justice Department would seek a court order to force Apple’s compliance.
The department filed legal papers on a similar case in 2016, but the issue was never resolved by a higher court.
(Learn More. How the FBI hacked the iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino terrorists. Courtesy of ABC News and YouTube. Posted on Mar 29, 2016.)
Officials said al-Shamrani intentionally fired a round into one of the phones during his rampage.
Apple did not immediately comment on the attorney general’s statements.
ACLU lawyer Jennifer Granick said the government’s demand to Apple “would weaken the security of millions of iPhones, and is dangerous and unconstitutional. . . . There is simply no way for Apple, or any other company, to provide the FBI access to encrypted communications without also providing it to authoritarian foreign governments and weakening our defenses against criminals and hackers.”
Even without the phone data, investigators were able to review al-Shamrani’s social media postings, which were critical to their determination.
In declaring the incident terrorism, Barr noted that on Sept. 11, al-Shamrani posted a message on social media saying, “The countdown has begun.”
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Barr said, al-Shamrani visited the memorial in New York City to those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers who carried out those attacks were Saudis.
Continue reading… Pensacola shooting was an act of terrorism, attorney general says
(Airman Apprentice Cameron Walters, Airman Mohammed Haitham and Ensign Joshua Watson have been identified as the victims killed during a shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Courtesy of TODAY and YouTube. Posted on Dec 8, 2019.)
Editor’s note: As the proud parent of a U.S. Marine who was stationed for training at Pensacola for an extended period of time, my heart goes out to the families of Airman Apprentice Cameron Walters, Airman Mohammed Haitham and Ensign Joshua Watson, all of those injured, and to all their fellow service members.
Thank you for your bravery in serving the citizens of our Nation, with pride and distinction.
All give some, some give all. You will not be forgotten.
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