After months of trying, the FBI recently said it successfully unlocked the iPhone of Mohammed Alshamrani, who caused a terrorist shootings at the Naval Air Base in Pensacola, Florida in December. Last year, 3 people were killed and 8 injured. Remarkably, the agency did that without Apple’s help.
According to a source close to refusing to reveal the identity, the FBI was finally able to access Alshamrani’s phone not by unprecedented technology but by “an automated guesser.”
Back at the time of the incident, the FBI seized Alshamrani’s iPhone and asked Apple to assist with the unlock in hopes of finding important information relevant to his shootings and accomplices.
But Apple flatly rejected the FBI’s request, saying the iPhone is highly secure and, like it or not, Apple can’t unlock it. Experts say that the tech giant’s actions are to protect the company’s reputation in protecting users’ personal data and at the same time affirm the security power of the iPhone.
Regardless, whatever the reason, the FBI expressed great disappointment with Apple because the refusal to support made them take a lot of time and effort to unlock.
At a press conference on May 18, US Attorney General William Barr said Alshamrani had links to al-Qaeda terrorist group, according to information gathered from the phone. In the shootings, this guy shot one of his two iPhones. The FBI then sought to extract data from the shot, and Apple remained determined not to provide support to law enforcement.
Apple’s refusal to help made the FBI spend a lot of time and effort unlocking the criminal’s iPhone.
“Apple’s decision has dangerous consequences for public safety and national security. In my opinion, it is unacceptable,” Mr. Barr said. Barr and many others have repeatedly criticized Apple for refusing to unlock the device to assist with investigations and law enforcement.
Earlier this year, Mr. Barr pointed out that Alshamrani’s case “perfectly illustrates why investigators should have access to criminal data when ordered by the court.” “We asked Apple for help in unlocking the shooter’s iPhone,” he said. “So far, they have not provided any significant assistance.”
Security experts, meanwhile, have asserted throughout the years that unlocking support could create a hole for criminals to gain access to the device.
In fact, the relationship between Apple and the FBI has been strained since 2016, when the investigation agency asked Apple to unlock the iPhone of Syed Rizwan Farook, one of two gunmen who attacked the Regional Inland Center in California. By the end of 2015, 14 people were killed and at least 21 injured.
After that, the FBI also successfully unlocked this guy’s iPhone without the help of Apple. At that time, the “apple house” also confirmed that their products could not be unlocked.