Air Base Shooting an ‘Act of Terrorism’

Attorney General Barr singled out several individuals for their heroism during the attack, including two unarmed U.S. Marines who confronted the shooter and later provided medical treatment to shooting victims, as well as a Navy airman who was shot five times yet still shielded a fellow sailor from being shot.

“We are grateful as well for the bravery of the base personnel and local law enforcement responders who initially arrived at the scene and engaged the shooter,” Barr said.

Barr also acknowledged the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for supporting the investigation, which has not found any evidence of pre-knowledge of the attack by other Saudi Royal Air Force and Royal Navy trainees. But investigators did find that 17 of the Saudi trainees in Florida had social media containing jihadi or anti-American content, and 15 (including some of the 17) had contact with child pornography. These findings led Saudi Arabia to withdraw 21 students from the training curriculum in the U.S.

Barr said federal prosecutors evaluated the individual cases. “The relevant U.S. Attorneys Offices independently reviewed each of the 21 cases involving derogatory information and determined that none of them would, in the normal course, result in federal prosecution,” Barr explained. 

Barr and Bowdich both closed their remarks with pleas to the California-based tech company Apple to work with the FBI and DOJ to collectively find a solution to the issue of mobile devices that are, by default, encrypted. The inability to lawfully access user data on mobile devices is leading promising cases to dead-ends, giving an edge to criminals and terrorists.

Alshamrani left two iPhones at the crime scene—one he shot through with a bullet before being killed. The FBI Laboratory was able to restore both phones to working order but is unable to unlock either of them.

“Even with a court order, to date we cannot access the contents of the two phones that the attorney general referred to in this investigation—and countless other investigations,” Bowdich said. “We want to work together with private sector companies so that we can lawfully access the evidence and information we need to keep our country and its citizens safe.”

“We’re not trying to weaken encryption,” he added. “After all, data security is a central part of our mission.