Saudi shooter at U.S. naval base had Al-Qaeda link

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

US officials see al-Qaeda link to Florida military base attack

"We now have a clearer understanding of Alshamrani's associations in the years, months and days leading up to his attack", Attorney General William Barr said at a news conference in which he sharply chastised Apple for not providing help in unlocking the phones.

Alshamrani, who was killed by a sheriff's deputy during the rampage at a classroom building, was undergoing flight training at Pensacola, where members of foreign militaries routinely receive instruction.

The Justice Department previously said that Alshamrani visited the New York City memorial to the victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States - carried out by Saudi hijackers for the Islamist militant group al Qaeda - and posted anti-American, anti-Israeli and jihadi messages on social media, including two hours before the attack.

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

The Justice Department had previously asked Apple to help extract data from two iPhones that belonged to the gunman, including one that authorities say Alshamrani damaged with a bullet after being confronted by law enforcement.

On this and many thousands of other cases, we continue to work around-the-clock with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other investigators who keep Americans safe and bring criminals to justice.

According to Wray, al-Shamrani had shared "plans and tactics" with AQAP, which later claimed credit for the attack. Wray said the shooter was "meticulous" in his planning, making pocket cam surveillance videos and a final will saved in his phone, which al Qaeda later released.

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In February, an audio recording purporting to be from the Islamist militant group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the fatal attack, but provided no evidence.

"In just the short time since we finally accessed that evidence, we and our partners have already put it to good use", Wray said.

The gunman who killed three United States sailors at a military base in Florida a year ago repeatedly communicated with Al Qaeda operatives in the months leading up to the attack, USA officials say.

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"We now have a picture of him we didn't have before we obtained this evidence-before we could confirm that his connection to AQAP was real, before we could track his long and methodical path to violence-a picture we would never had obtained without accessing his devices", he said.

Apple said it gave the feds iCloud backups, account information and "transactional data", but acknowledged it wouldn't help hack into Alshamrani's iPhones.

Barr had earlier expressed frustration with Apple regarding the investigation. "In cases like this, where the user is a terrorist, or in other cases where the user is a violent criminal, a human trafficker, a child predator, Apple's decision has risky consequences for the public safety and the national security and is in my judgment unacceptable".

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The Epoch Times reached out to Apple for a comment.

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