Barr Calls Pensacola Killings Terror, Demands Apple’s Aid

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Attorney General William Barr says 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 called out Apple Inc. to help them unlock the killer’s phones, the Washington Post reports. Discussing 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 had posted anti-American messages on social media two hours before his attack. FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich said Shamrani fired shots at pictures of President Donald Trump and a past U.S. president, and witnesses said he made statements critical of American military actions overseas. Bowdich said that while Shamrani did not seem to be inspired by one specific terrorist group, he harbored anti-American and anti-Israeli views and felt “violence was necessary.”

Monday’s announcement offered the most definitive account of the gunman’s actions and thinking. Bowdich said investigators had interviewed more than 500 people and collected more than 42 terabytes of digital information. Investigators have been stymied in trying to access the gunman’s two iPhones. Standing before giant photographs of two severely damaged devices, Barr urged Apple to act. “So far, Apple has not given us any substantive assistance,” Barr said, though aides clarified that Apple had given investigators access to cloud data linked to the gunman. Apple disputed Barr’s description of its role, saying the company began responding within hours of the first FBI request on Dec. 6, and has turned over “many gigabytes” of data in the case. American Civil Liberties Union attorney Jennifer Granick said the government’s demand to Apple “would weaken the security of millions of iPhones, and is dangerous and unconstitutional. “

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