Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a Saudi Air Force officer, had ties to an unidentified operative of the terror network founded by the late Osama bin Laden, Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed during a news conference.
The contacts were discovered when federal investigators cracked the encryption on two iPhones that belonged to Alshamrani, including one that he intentionally damaged by shooting it during the bloodbath, The Associated Press reported.
The Justice Department was able to access the data on its own without Apple’s help, Wray said.
In January, President Trump accused Apple of refusing to “unlock phones used by killers, drug dealers, and other violent criminal elements” after Barr said the tech giant had provided no “substantive assistance” in the investigation of Alshamrani.
Apple said it gave the feds iCloud backups, account information and “transactional data,” but acknowledged it wouldn’t help hack into Alshamrani’s iPhones.
Alshamrani was undergoing flight training at the Pensacola Naval Air Station when he killed three US sailors and injured eight other people during a Dec. 6 rampage in a classroom building.
He was fatally gunned down by a sheriff’s deputy who responded to the scene.
Alshamrani was radicalized overseas and had been committed to jihadist ideology for at least five years, officials said Monday.
He prepared for the attack by traveling to Lower Manhattan over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and visiting the Ground Zero site of the Sept. 11 destruction of the World Trade Center by al Qaeda terrorists, officials said.
He also posted anti-America and anti-Israel messages on social media just two hours before launching his assault.
In February, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — a branch of the terror network based in Yemen — released a video claiming responsibility for the Sunshine State incident.
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