FBI and Justice Department accuse Apple of stalling terrorist probe
US government found al Qaeda connections on terrorist’s iPhone without Apple’s help
US law enforcement officials have accused Apple of stalling an investigation into a Saudi aviation student who killed three people at a Florida Naval base last year.
Second Lt. Mohammed Alshamrani, a member of the Saudi air force, had been communicating with al Qaeda operatives for years. The discovery was made using information recovered from his two iPhone devices.
Officials have since accused Apple of stalling the probe by refusing to unlock the shooter’s devices.
Ultimately, the FBI had to bypass Apple’s security features to access the information on the gunman’s phones. The information uncovered on the devices led to a counterterrorism operation against Abdullah al-Maliki, an associate of Alshamrani, Attorney General William Barr said. Unfortunately, Apple was of little help during the FBI’s investigations.
“We received effectively no help from Apple," FBI director Christopher Wray stated during a news conference, adding that the struggle to unlock the encrypted devices caused months-long delays and jeopardized public safety.
Apple, on the other hand, disagrees with Barr and the FBI’s assessment.
“The false claims made about our company are an excuse to weaken encryption and other security measures that protect millions of users and our national security,” Apple shared in a statement provided to The Wall Street Journal.
“It is because we take our responsibility to national security so seriously that we do not believe in the creation of a backdoor—one which will make every device vulnerable to bad actors who threaten our national security and the data security of our customers.”
Despite its condemnations of the company, the Justice Department is no closer to convincing Apple to provide backdoor access to its tech. At this time, Barr and Wray have also declined to comment on how they unlocked the devices.