A fatal attack by a Saudi Air Force officer at a Florida naval base in December was, according to investigators, terrorist. "It was an act of terrorism," said Attorney General William Barr when the results of the investigation were presented in Washington. "The evidence shows that the shooter was motivated by jihadist ideology." Until two hours before the attack on the military base in Pensacola, the perpetrator published "anti-American, anti-Israeli and jihadist messages" on social media.
The 21-year-old Saudi soldier completed training at the military base. On December 6, he killed three US soldiers and eight other Americans were injured. The attacker was subsequently shot by the police. Barr said the investigation had found no evidence that the perpetrator was a supporter in the United States would have had. Investigators suspected a terrorist motive shortly after the crime.
In the subsequent investigation, however, the investigators found incriminating material in 21 Saudi soldiers who are also undergoing training in the USA. Social media accounts of 17 of these soldiers also had jihadist or anti-American content. Connections to terrorist groups are said not to have been discovered. Furthermore, 15 of the soldiers had "contact with child pornography", some of the soldiers were accused of both. They were all excluded from the training program and would immediately return to Saudi Arabia, said Barr.
Criticism of Apple
Barr also praised the Saudi kingdom's cooperation with the investigators. However, he criticized the technology group Apple: Both iPhones of the perpetrator of Pensacola had been technically changed so that it was virtually impossible to get his data without passwords. "It is very important to know who and what the shooter was communicating with before he died. We asked Apple for help to unlock the shooter’s iPhone. So far, Apple has not provided substantial help."
The case showed why it was important for investigators to have access to such data based on a court order, Barr said. He called Apple and other technology companies to help investigators find a solution. This would better protect the lives of Americans and prevent future attacks.