Saudi attacker on US base had longstanding Al Qaeda ties

The Saudi military student who killed three Americans at a US naval base in December had longstanding ties to Al Qaeda and planned an attack before he arrived in the United States, US justice officials said Monday, SIA reports citing TRT World.

The December 6 attack by Mohammed Alshamrani, a Royal Saudi Air Force flight student at the Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, "was actually the culmination of years of planning and preparation," said FBI Director Christopher Wray. Evidence discovered on an encrypted cell phone shows he was radicalised at least as far back as 2015, and had since been associating with "dangerous" operatives from the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Wray added.

The FBI and Justice Department revealed their findings after a months-long effort to crack the encryption on Alshamrani's iPhone, which they said Apple refused to help with. US Attorney General Bill Barr accused Apple of putting its own financial interests ahead of the nation's. Apple rejected suggestions that it did not cooperate in the investigation. But the company also said that creating a so-called "back door" into its phones for US law enforcement would make them vulnerable for a wide range of hackers.

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