FBI Cracks iPhones Belonging to NAS Pensacola Shooter, Finding Evidence Of Al Qaeda Connection

May 18, 2020

The Saudi aviation student that opened fire killing three sailors at NAS Pensacola last December had been in contact with Al Qaeda, the U.S. Justice Department said Monday morning.

Evidence of the previously unknown communications was discovered after the FBI was  finally able to unlock the iPhone belonging to Saudi Arabian Air Force 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, U.S. Attorney General William Barr said.

“The FBI finally succeeded in unlocking Alshamrani’s phones. The phones contained information previously unknown to us that definitively establishes Alshamrani’s significant ties to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) — not only before the attack but before he even arrived in the United States,” Barr said. “We now have a clearer understanding of Alshamrani’s associations and activities in the years, months, and days leading up to his attack,” Barr said.

“It was clear at the time that the phones were likely to contain very important information,” Barr said. “Indeed, Alshamrani attempted to destroy both of the phones, even going so far as to disengage from the gunfight long enough to fire a bullet into one of the phones.”

Evidence on the phones showed “that the Pensacola attack was actually the brutal culmination of years of planning and preparation by a longtime AQAP associate”, the attorney general said. He added the phones showed he had contact and started planning with AQAP, an offshoot of Al Qaeda, before he arrived in the United States in 2017.

Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray repeatedly expressed disgust with Apple during a press conference Monday morning. The tech giant had refused to help the government unlock the iPhone despite a federal search warrant.

Wray said no other evidence has been discovered on the phones that hinted of any other planned attacks in the U.S.

Wray recognized partners, including local agencies including the Jacksonville and Pensacola offices of the FBI, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Naval security forces and the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, for their response to the shooting.

Sailors Joshua K. Watson, Mohammed S. Haitham and Cameron S. Walters were killed and either others, members of Naval security forces and the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, were injured in the attack.

Pictured inset: Photos of one of the iPhones. Pictured below: Side-by-side comparison of Pensacola shooter Mohammed Saeed al-Shamrani’s notes (left side) with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s original claim of responsibility. Courtesy photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.


25 Responses to “FBI Cracks iPhones Belonging to NAS Pensacola Shooter, Finding Evidence Of Al Qaeda Connection”

  1. David Huie Green on May 22nd, 2020 8:46 pm

    “it’s their wives and children that are being terrorized by the good ole US of A. It pains me to see footage of the Vietnam War, watching terrified women running with babies on their backs. And for what? We are not innocent.’

    Nope. We are not terrorizing them. Some of their people are starting fights where we can’t fight back without risking others. Thus, we have to decide whether to let those depending on us die or risk hurting others.

    Saudi Arabia favors a particularly bloody form of Islam and our very existence offends them. I am not sure why President Trump loves them so.

    Vietnam was not us going around trying to kill women and children — or anybody for that matter. It did involve a successful attempt by the USSR to take over another country for the spread of Communism.

    McNamara convinced LBJ we had to stand up to the Communists or they would continue to kill millions as they often did.

    After a while we got bored and left. Communists took over, killed a bunch of people, and found out that Communism fails to meet the needs of the people. They are good for little other than killing.

    David for faith in freedom

  2. just sayin on May 22nd, 2020 11:40 am

    What is sad is that these people still remain at NAS and we Johnny public are not allowed on our base to visit the lighthouse or museum. That is messed up.

  3. pencil on May 22nd, 2020 7:39 am

    Rasheed Jackson

    The key phrase is “a foreign power” the NAS shooter was foreign, the rest you mentioned were radical and heinous to be sure but many were Americans.

    Some may have even gone crazy or been sympathizers but they weren’t part of a plot by a foreign power with a plan to specifically kill us, they were lone wolves. Those are the the distinctions and determinations that the FBI made, not me.

  4. Emily on May 21st, 2020 1:18 pm

    There’s a basis for all of the anger that these people have against the United States. They are not taking the correct way to get back at us for our bombings of their country and the innocent lives they have lost. Americans, some of them, may believe that their lives are less important than ours. But it’s their wives and children that are being terrorized by the good ole US of A. It pains me to see footage of the Vietnam War, watching terrified women running with babies on their backs. And for what? We are not innocent.

  5. BJohnson on May 20th, 2020 11:57 am

    ….Sure would have been nice with the translation

  6. David Huie Green on May 19th, 2020 5:38 pm

    Always possible. On the other hand since he brags about using unprescribed, ineffective, potentially deadly drugs, it may come down to PENCE 2020

    We shall see.

    David for Christian values
    such as wisdom and decency

  7. Mike J. on May 19th, 2020 2:46 pm

    I agree with the others against Apple. I’ll never spend my money on apple products. I have one iPad that was a gift and it’s getting old. When it quits it will not be replaced by another Apple product. If their market in China is more important to them than American people, then to heck with them! This goes from the lower management of Apple all the way up to the CEO. If they can’t love America and be loyal to US first, then get out!

  8. retired on May 19th, 2020 9:54 am




  9. Steve Litton on May 19th, 2020 8:53 am

    Why are we not sending our training experts to Saudi Arabia to train their pilots?

    They have enough money to pay us for it.

    Y’all can keep blaming this president or that. But WHY are foreign military members allowed to come here, get hunting licenses and weapons? That’s NOT the President. That’s state and/or federal law.

  10. Rasheed Jackson on May 19th, 2020 7:47 am

    @ Pencil
    Have you not kept up with the news in the last 19 years?
    What about, Fort Hood; 11/5/2009, The Beltway Sniper; October 2002, Little Rock Arkansas; 6/1/2009, Detroit Mich.; 12/25/2009, Tucson Arizona; 1/8/2011, Boston Marathon bomber; 4/15/2013, Skyway Washington; 4/27/2014, Seattle Washington; 6/1/2014, East Orange NJ; 6/25/2014, Axe attack in NY City; 10/23/2014, Garland Texas; 5/3/2014, Brooklyn NY; 12/20/2014, Chattanooga Tennessee; 7/16/2015, Merced Cal.; 11/4/2015, San Bernardino Cal.; 12/2/2015, Columbus Ohio; 2/11/2016,
    Just to name a few.

  11. HkEmHrns on May 19th, 2020 5:44 am

    @David Huie Green, Trump 2020, 4 more years

  12. pencil on May 18th, 2020 11:39 pm

    First successful attack on American soil by a foreign power since 9/11 . . . .

    No presidential leadership and numerous vacancies in positions needed to properly protect the country.

  13. Niknak50 on May 18th, 2020 9:16 pm

    This phone business is certainly a two edged sword, but our government had more than probable cause to ask Apple for help, and they should have. For those with privacy concerns, there isn’t any privacy anymore. If you are on social media or use a credit card, trust me, big brother knows everything about you there is to know. But while we debate this let us remember those who lost their lives and keep their sacrifice in mind.

  14. MR REALITY on May 18th, 2020 7:12 pm

    I guess SEVERAL of you cant read….The article said the fed govt had a warrant and APPLE didnt do a thing about it.

  15. David Huie Green on May 18th, 2020 5:44 pm

    Al Qaeda: The same folks our President invited to Camp David last year and sold out the women and children of Afghanistan to as well as any others who cooperated with us to stop these terrorists. Kissing and making up is unappetizing. Can’t even say, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” because he isn’t one.

    (I wonder if the Attorney General is telling the truth this time.)

    David for honor

  16. Rasheed Jackson on May 18th, 2020 4:35 pm

    @ k,
    The FBI never asked them for the decryption code. They asked them to help unlock the phone. Apple could have simply unlocked the phone to allow the FBI the ability to retrieve the information. By refusing to help they forced the FBI to develop their own method of getting the information off the phone, and as you pointed out if it works on one phone it will work on all phones.

    If you are worried about privacy then wouldn’t it had been better for Apple to open the phone and protect their decryption code?

    Plus your argument does not excuse their actions and willingness to work with the Chinese Communist government. Their willingness to trample the right to privacy of Chinese citizens and then protect the rights of an international terrorist, that murdered American servicemen, is unjustifiable. So no, they should not get a free pass.

  17. tg on May 18th, 2020 4:22 pm

    And we let them buy and own weapons. Bought in Pensacola to use at NAS.

  18. mike on May 18th, 2020 3:43 pm

    (gasp!) no, really!?! :)

    and men meet late at night at every mosque in the USA, it does not mean they are up to something. this guy might have had his own personal reasons for going batcrap crazy with a gun, who knows? :)

    then again, Anne might be right. :(

  19. Concerned Citizen on May 18th, 2020 3:26 pm

    That’s right K we don’t live in communist China. The government can’t just come and decide to compromise the security of an entire network based on the wrongdoing of a few terrorists

  20. k on May 18th, 2020 1:55 pm

    @rasheed jackson

    Apple gets a free pass for a very simple reason:

    providing a de-cryption method that works on 1 iphone would work on EVERY iphone.

    Apple would be helping the government at the expense of its entire iphone product line.

    The government got into the san bernadino shooter’s phone by cloning the phone and then doing password combos until it bricked. it’s time consuming, but it works and does not compromise iphone’s ability to secure its product, which is its major selling point.

    that’s why apple gets a free pass – it does not have to help the government do what is the government’s job.

  21. k on May 18th, 2020 1:50 pm

    @rasheed Jackson

    Apple gets a free pass on this one. you won’t like it, but here’s why:

    Apple encryption is based on the construction of the chip itself. if apple provides a way to de-crypt 1 phone, it has provided a way to de-crypt ALL iphones.

    and there is no way once that method exists that it will remain in the hands of those authorities that are supposed to be the only who have it.

    short version: the federal government is unable to guarantee that a method to de-crypt iphones would not be leaked to the public at some future point.

    a decryption method for iphones would render the patent for the iphone technology useless and no one would buy a phone that anyone could hack.

    so apple is faced with helping the government at the cost of destroying its entire product line.

    THAT is worth a free pass for apple.

  22. Rasheed Jackson on May 18th, 2020 1:23 pm

    If the police were to come to my house looking for evidence of a crime or links to a crime committed by someone I knew, and I refused or hid it where they could not find it, I would most probably face charges for obstruction, or possibly aiding and abetting. Yes I looked it, google is amazing. So, why does Apple get to hide or in this case refuse to turn over evidence? You can be assured if this happened in China they would be more than willing to rat out their customer. Last comment based on a News Week article from 5/5/2015, and Wired article 10/17/2018. Yeah Apple helps China spy on their people.

  23. Anne on May 18th, 2020 1:02 pm

    As we suspected all along, not a radicalized individual but a cold-blooded planned attack on US Military personnel calculated to maximize casualties and disrupt the training and lifestyles of our important assets.
    This terrorist was sent here as a ticking timebomb waiting for the final instructions likely given via this Apple iPhone to carry out his attack on US soil.
    It will be interesting to see how the Apple corporate heads try to shield themselves from being what appears to many as being co-conspirators due to refusal to cooperate with a lawful court order.
    While we have many who are wanting our military to downsize this should serve as a WAKE UP CALL.

  24. JW on May 18th, 2020 12:45 pm


    After the Ft. Hood attack by an insider, those injured active duty were awarded Purple Hearts. This follows the same and Purple Hearts should be awarded to those active, regardless of student/instructor status.

  25. tim on May 18th, 2020 12:01 pm

    More proof, more reasons why they need to do their own training in their own country, vetting will not stop the infiltration of these terrorist scumbags from killing Americans. .

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