AG Barr: Pensacola naval base shooting was an act of terrorism

January 14, 2020

Last month, a Saudi aviation cadet murdered three people at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, and this week, Attorney General Bill Barr confirmed that the shooting spree was indeed an act of terrorism.

“The evidence shows that the shooter was motivated by jihadist ideology,” Barr said at a press conference on Monday.

Barr details findings

“During the course of the investigation, we learned that the shooter posted a message on social media on Sept. 11 of last year that said: ‘the countdown has begun,'” the attorney general announced.

“Over Thanksgiving weekend, 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,” he added.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia gave complete and total support to our counterterrorism investigation,” Barr continued. “They ordered all Saudi trainees to fully cooperate.”

21 Saudis possessed “derogatory material”

It subsequently emerged that 21 of the Saudis posted to the base were in possession of “derogatory material,” including “jihadi or anti-American content” as well as child pornography. Barr stated that these individuals “have been disenrolled from their training program and will be returning to Saudi Arabia today.”

Barr also talked about the role that electronics played in the investigation before complaining that Apple corporate officials were not doing enough to assist the government.

“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,” Barr continued.

“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.”

Apple’s response

The tech giant responded via a spokesman who said the company was only notified of the need for assistance on Jan. 6 and went on to defend Apple’s commitment to preserving encryption.

“Today, law enforcement has access to more data than ever before in history, so Americans do not have to choose between weakening encryption and solving investigations,” the company declared. “We feel strongly encryption is vital to protecting our country and our users’ data.”

After the shooting, President Trump tweeted, “King Salman of Saudi Arabia just called to express his sincere condolences and give his sympathies to the families and friends of the warriors who were killed and wounded in the attack,” adding, “the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter.”

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Adam Peters

Adam Peters is a Conservative Institute staff writer.