Attorney General Barr Announces Attack on Florida Naval Base ‘an Act of Terrorism’
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Attorney General Barr Announces Attack on Florida Naval Base ‘an Act of Terrorism’

Attorney General William Barr announced Monday
that last month’s deadly shooting at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida has been ruled
“an act of terrorism” that was “motivated by jihadist ideology.” Barr also told reporters at a news conference
at the Justice Department that 21 members of the Saudi Royal Air Force and Royal Navy
enrolled in flight training in Pensacola were found to have “derogatory information”
in their possession and have been removed from the school. They were scheduled to return to Saudi Arabia
on Monday. “On Dec. 6, 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani,
a member of the Royal Saudi Air Force, entered a building on the grounds of Pensacola Naval
Air Station and killed three U.S. sailors and severely wounded eight other Americans,”
Barr said. “Alshamrani was killed during the attack.” “This was an act of terrorism,” the attorney
general said. “The evidence shows that the shooter was
motivated by jihadist ideology.” As evidence of Alshamrani’s motivation,
Barr said the shooter posted a message on social media last Sept. 11 that said: “the
countdown has begun.” Over Thanksgiving, he visited the 9/11 Memorial
in New York City. “He also posted other anti-American, anti-Israeli,
and jihadi messages on social media, and did so two hours before his attack at the naval
base,” Barr said. The attorney general explained that contrary
to early media accounts, Alshamrani did not arrive at the site of the shooting with other
Saudi cadets, but came alone. “Other Saudi cadets happened to be in the
area and, after the attack began, they took some videos of the resulting commotion,”
Barr said. “They fully cooperated in the investigation,
as did the other Saudi cadets who were interviewed by the FBI at Pensacola and at additional
bases across the country.” Barr commended the Saudi government for completely
cooperating with the investigation and directing the trainees in the U.S. to do the same. Of the 21 cadets ordered by their government
to return to Saudi Arabia, 17 had social media containing “some jihadi or anti-American
content,” the attorney general said. Additionally, “15 individuals (including
some of the 17 just mentioned) had had some kind of contact with child pornography,”
Barr said in his statement. He also said the FBI recovered two Apple iPhones
from the shooter and obtained a warrant to access them, but has not been able to without
the passwords. “So far Apple has not given us any substantive
assistance,” Barr said. “This situation perfectly illustrates why
it is critical that investigators be able to get access to digital evidence once they
have obtained a court order based on probable cause.”

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