The FBI has accessed two iPhones used by the perpetrator of a terrorist attack, claiming the devices reveal al Qaeda had directed the plot.
This is the last development in a long-running debate about the degree to which technology companies should be obliged to change their products in order to assist law enforcement with investigations.
A member of the Saudi air force, Mohammed Alshamrani, who was training in the US, killed three people at the Pensacola navy air station in Florida on 6 December last year.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed to have directed the shooting, in an audio recording released in February.
FBI officials now say that they have obtained evidence the gunman had been in regular contact with al Qaeda, describing the attack as “the brutal culmination of years of planning and preparation.”
“Thanks to the great work of the FBI – and no thanks to Apple – we were able to unlock Alshamrani’s phones,” said US attorney General William Barr in a press conference.
There is no clear indication as to how the FBI managed to access the iPhones.