Alshamrani killed three – a 19-year-old airman from St. Petersburg, FL, a 23-year-old United States Naval Academy graduate from Coffee, AL, and a 21-year-old airman apprentice from Richmond Hill, GA. Among the eight Alshamrani injured were two deputies.
If you don’t remember the murders, you have Apple to thank. Though Alshamrani posted anti-American messages on social media two hours before the shooting and the murders were termed terrorism in January, Alshamrani’s phone or phones could not be unlocked until May. Why?
Because, according to Attorney General William Barr, “Apple would not help us unlock the phones. Apple had deliberately designed them so that only the user – in this case, the terrorist – could gain access to the contents.”
Alshamrani Was A Terrorist Operative
When the FBI was finally able to unlock Alshamrani’s phones (with no help from Apple), it was soon revealed that he had been in clear communication with al-Qaida. According to National Public Radio:
“FBI Director Christopher Wray said the shooter had been communicating with the group’s operatives since at least 2015 – so before he came to the U.S. – and that he remained very much in touch with the group after he came to the United States, even right up to the night before the attack. Wray said the gunman was coordinating with them, sharing planning and tactics and providing a chance for al-Qaida to take credit for his actions.”
Accessing the phone data had been crucial to exposing Alshamrani’s terrorist mission. According to Military Times:
“Once unlocked by the FBI, U.S. officials said, the phones revealed contact between Alshamrani and ‘dangerous’ operatives from al-Qaida in the Arabian Pensinsula, or AQAP, including the night before the attack … Alsharamni created minicam videos as he cased a military school building.”
According to Military Times, Wray said that Alshamrani “wasn’t just coordinating with them about planning and tactics … he was helping the organization making the most it could out of his murders.”
Apple Has Ugly History Blocking Terrorism Investigations
This is not the first time Apple has blocked an investigation of terrorism on U.S. soil. It also impeded the federal investigation of a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, CA on December 2, 2015. The San Bernardino perpetrators, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, shot up a Christmas party and San Bernardino County Department of Public Health training, killing 14 people and seriously injuring 22 others. It was the deadliest U.S. mass shooting since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School murders.
To investigate the massacre, the FBI asked Apple to help disable security features on Farook and Malik’s phone to access the phone’s random access memory. The company declined. Apple was then issued a court order to assist in accessing the phone data and Apple announced its intent to oppose the order.
In defending its refusal to cooperate with the Pensacola investigation, Apple called the government’s attempts to unlock Alshamrani’s phone “an excuse to weaken encryption and other security measures that protect millions of users and our national security.”
Doesn’t terrorism on our own soil count as national security, Apple?
Other Military Installations Viciously Attacked
Since the terrorist-inspired mass shooting at Fort Hood, near Killeen, TX in 2009 that killed 14 and injured more than 30, other U.S. military installations have been attacked.
In 2015, four marines were killed and three other people injured in a likely terrorist attack at a Chattanooga Navy support center and a joint recruiting station. And an active shooter at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, TX occurred in May, another terrorist attack.
Many questions arise from the weak news coverage of Alshamrani’s terrorism and May’s Corpus Christi attack. Is the country so obsessed with COVID-19 that such terrorist attacks barely matter anymore? Why are terrorist “students” like Alshamrani welcomed into U.S. flight training programs after 9/11? Have we learned nothing? Why were Alshamrani’s clear terrorism links not vetted?
Finally why is U.S.-based Apple allowed to endanger the whole nation by protecting the phone “rights” of terrorists’?