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Attorney General Bill Barr says attack on Pensacola naval base 'an act of terror,' calls on Apple to unlock killer's iPhones

The suspect took the time to shoot one of his phones during the attack

Attorney General William Barr (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Attorney General Bill Barr said Monday that the Saudi national who killed three U.S. service members and wounded eight more Americans at a naval air base in Pensacola last month committed "an act of terror," and made a public plea for Apple to cooperate with investigators to assist in unlocking the murderer's iPhones.

What are the details?

Speaking during a press conference, Barr told reporters of the Dec. 6 attack, "This was an act of terror," he said, according to NBC News. "The evidence shows the shooter was influenced by jihadist ideology."

The attorney general went on to cite further evidence uncovered by investigators, confirming that the suspect — who was killed after exchanging gunfire with law enforcement at the scene — held anti-American and anti-Israeli views.

Barr also took the time during his presser to call on Apple, the maker of the iPhone, to assist investigators in unlocking the killer's devices. "During the gunfight with the first responders the shooter disengaged long enough to place one of his phones on the floor and shoot a single round into the device," he said. "It also appears the other phone was damaged."

The FBI was able to reconstruct the damaged iPhones, but are still unable to open the devices.

"This situation perfect illustrates why it is critical that investigators be able to get access to digital evidence once they have obtained a court order based on probably cause," Barr explained. "It is very important to know with whom and about what the shooter was communicating before he died. We call on Apple and other technology companies to help us find a solution so that we can better protect the lives of Americans and prevent future attacks."

According to Politico, Apple told the outlet last week "that it had provided as much help as it could" in the case, but Barr said the company "has not given us any substantive assistance."

Anything else?

The suspect in the attack was in the United States as part of U.S. Air Force Foreign Military Sales training program. Following the attack in Pensacola, the Pentagon suspended the program for Saudi Arabian students and Defense Secretary Mark Esper ordered a review of the screening process for foreign students training in the U.S.

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