PENSACOLA, Fla. — Attorney General William P. Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray are scheduled to hold a virtual news conference at the Department of Justice at 10 a.m.
They are expected to announce updates in the criminal investigation of the Dec. 6, 2019, shootings at the Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida which killed three U.S. Service members and wounded eight other Americans.
Barr announced that the FBI recently succeeded in unlocking the phones of Alshamrani, who had attempted to destroy them while launching his attack. The phones contained important, previously unknown information that definitively established Alshamrani’s significant ties to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), not only before the attack, but before he even arrived in the United States, officials wrote in a news release.
The FBI now has a clearer understanding of Alshamrani’s associations and activities in the years, months, and days leading up to the attack.
“I could not be prouder of the relentless dedication of the men and women at the FBI who worked for months under difficult conditions to access these devices,” said Director Wray. “Their skill and persistence, and the sustained investigative efforts by FBI Jacksonville, the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, and our many other federal, state, and local partners, have been nothing short of extraordinary in this case. As we continue to seek answers around the December 6th terrorist attack that killed three American service members and wounded others, I want their families, and all Americans, to know that protecting the United States from those who seek to do us harm remains the FBI’s foremost priority. Our work against the threat of terrorism never rests.”
Investigators also learned that in the months before the attack, while in the United States, Alshamrani had specific conversations with overseas AQAP associates about plans and tactics. In fact, he was communicating with AQAP right up until the attack, and conferred with his associates until the night before he undertook the murders.
The evidence derived from Alshamrani’s unlocked phones has already proven useful in protecting the American people. In particular, a counterterrorism operation targeting AQAP operative Abdullah al-Maliki, one of Alshamrani’s overseas associates, was recently conducted in Yemen.