The evidence “shows that the Pensacola attack was actually the brutal culmination of years of planning and preparation by a longtime AQAP assocaite,” said Wray.
Wray stopped short of saying al Qaeda directed the attack, but noted that Alshamrani had been coordinating with the group. He shared “plans and tactics,” including making pocket videos of his classroom building, said Wray.
“We know that he was coordinating with them and providing an opportunity for them to take credit for the attack,” said Wray.
AQAP has claimed responsibility for the attack and said they were in touch with the gunman.
Investigators concluded that Alshamran’s iPhones held valuable information when he paused to fire at one of the devices during a gunfight with law enforcement. After he was killed, investigators found a second, damaged phone that he had destroyed.
But Apple refused a Justice Department request to help law enforcement unlock the iPhones, a move Barr strongly condemned during the press conference. President Donald Trump personally requested help from the technology company, said Barr.
Barr expressed “great disappointment that it took over four months and large sums of taxpayer dollars to obtain evidence that should’ve been easily and quickly acceptable when we obtained court orders.”
“Apple has made a business and marketing decision to design its phones in a way that only the user can unlock the contents no matter what the circumstances,” said Barr. “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 dangerous consequences to public safety and the national security and is in my judgment unacceptable.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement that based on the FBI’s findings, the department will take “further prudent and effective measures to safeguard our people.”
In the initial days after the attack, which occurred at Naval Air Station Pensacola, DoD ordered a stop to all international military student operational training at U.S. installations and directed a review of all vetting and security procedures. Within two weeks, Esper directed additional measures for background checks and new physical security procedures designed to increase safety.
“The Department of Defense is incredibly grateful for the diligent work by the FBI team investigating this horrific attack that took the lives of three American patriots,” said Esper.