Al Qaeda linked to shooting by Saudi cadet at Pensacola base: reports

Al Qaeda linked to shooting by Saudi cadet at Pensacola base: reports
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Federal investigators found a link between al Qaeda and the Saudi cadet behind the deadly shooting at a U.S. military base in Florida last year, according to multiple reports on Monday. 

The FBI found evidence linking the gunman in the Pensacola shooting, 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, to al Qaeda, CNN, The New York Times and The Associated Press reported. 

The FBI found that Alshamrani had communicated with an al Qaeda operative who had encouraged the attack, two officials told the Times. 

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Attorney General William BarrBill BarrTrump administration awarding M in housing grants to human trafficking survivors Trump stokes conspiracy about Epstein death, stands by wishes for Ghislaine Maxwell Democrats' silence on our summer of violence is a tactical blunder MORE is set to hold a public briefing to announce the development at 11 a.m. Monday, according to the reports. 

Officials told the Times that the FBI uncovered the link after bypassing security features on at least one of Alshamrani’s two iPhones, without help from Apple. Officials reportedly did not say what methods investigators used to access the phone. 

In January, Barr had called on Apple to help investigators unlock the shooter’s phones.

It was not clear whether the al Qaeda operative directed Alshamrani to carry out the December shooting, which killed three U.S. sailors and wounded eight others, the Times reports. 

Barr said in January the shooting was an “act of terrorism” and that the shooter was motivated by “jihadist ideology.” 

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the attack and said they were in touch with Alshamrani, CNN noted. U.S. officials said in February the leader of the group, Qassim al-Rimi, was killed in an airstrike in Yemen. 

Alshamrani, a member of the Royal Saudi Air Force who was enrolled in a Naval Air Station Pensacola training program, was killed by law enforcement during the attack.