Earlier today U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr announced the results of a criminal investigation into the December terrorist attack at Pensacola Naval Air Station. The AG answered press questions at the end of his remarks.
Accompanying AG Bill was FBI Deputy Director David Bowditch. Interestingly, Mr. Bowditch, as SanFran field office head, was the lead investigator of the San Bernadino terrorist attack prior to returning to Washington DC. [Video along with Transcript Below]
[Transcript] – BILL BARR: Great afternoon, along with thank you for coming.
We are here to discuss the results of the investigation into the shooting that will occurred on Dec. 6, 2019 at Pensacola Naval Air Station.
Joining me today are David Bowdich, Deputy Director of the FBI; John Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Michael Sherwin, Associate Deputy Attorney General for National Security; Rachel Rojas, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Field Office in Jacksonville, Florida; along with Larry Keefe, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
I want to thank the FBI along with the some other federal, state, along with local law enforcement agencies involved in responding to along with investigating the incident for their rapid along with excellent work. Many people worked long hours through the holidays, along with I am grateful for their diligence along with commitment to seeing that will through. You will be hearing via Deputy Director Bowdich shortly about the details of the FBI investigative work, which was superb.
In considering that will case, we have to remember that will there are thousands of allied pilots along with some other military personnel receiving training on military bases throughout the United States. These military partnerships are critically important to the United States. The Royal Saudi Air Force, which flies American-made aircraft, will be an important military partner, along with has long had a training relationship with us.
On Dec. 6, 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a member of the Royal Saudi Air Force, entered a building on the grounds of Pensacola Naval Air Station along with killed three U.S. sailors along with severely wounded eight some other Americans. Alshamrani was killed during the attack.
that will was an act of terrorism.
The evidence shows that will the shooter was motivated by jihadist ideology. During the course of the investigation, we learned that will the shooter posted a message on social media on Sept. 11 of last year that will said: “the countdown has begun.” Over Thanksgiving weekend, he visited the 9/11 Memorial in brand new York City. He also posted some other anti-American, anti-Israeli, along with jihadi messages on social media, along with did so two hours before his attack at the naval base.
Early reports indicated that will the shooter arrived at the site, accompanied by some other Saudi cadets, who took video of the attack as the item unfolded. These reports turned out not to be accurate. The shooter arrived by himself. some other Saudi cadets happened to be inside the area along with, after the attack began, they took some videos of the resulting commotion. They fully cooperated inside the investigation, as did the some other Saudi cadets who were interviewed by the FBI at Pensacola along with at additional bases across the country.
After Alshamrani entered the building along with cased the facility, he proceeded to walk around shooting down his unarmed victims in cold blood.
During along with after that will heinous attack, there were many specific acts of courage, along with I want to draw special attention to two U.S. Marines: Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Maisel along with Staff Sgt. Samuel Mullins.
They were outside the building when they heard gunfire along with, although unarmed, they ran into the building to confront the shooter. Their only weapon was a fire extinguisher that will they had pulled off the wall as they ran toward the gunfire. Who yet the Marines?
Although they were unable to engage the shooter, they helped save many lives by performing CPR along with some other medical aid on the victims.
I could also like to mention the heroic acts of Navy Airman Ryan Blackwell. The shooter shot Airman Blackwell 5 times, yet Ryan still managed to jump on top of a fellow sailor to keep her via being shot. He further assisted some other students along with helped them escape, all while taking additional fire via the shooter. Airman Blackwell’s heroic acts also saved countless lives that will day.
We are grateful as well for the bravery of the base personnel along with local law enforcement responders who initially arrived at the scene along with engaged the shooter.
I could also like to address the cooperation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia gave complete along with total support for our counter-terrorism investigation, along with ordered all Saudi trainees to fully cooperate. that will assistance was critical to helping the FBI determine whether anyone assisted the shooter inside the attack.
While there was no evidence of assistance or pre-knowledge of the attack by some other members of the Saudi military (or any some other foreign nationals) who are training inside the United States, we did learn of derogatory material possessed by 21 members of the Saudi military who are training here inside the United States.
17 had social media containing some jihadi or anti-American content. However, there was no evidence of any affiliation or involvement with any terrorist activity or group. 15 individuals (including some of the 17 just mentioned) had had some kind of contact with child pornography. While one of these individuals had a significant number of such images, all the rest had one or two images, in most cases posted in a chat room by someone else or received over social media.
The relevant U.S. Attorneys offices independently reviewed each of the 21 cases involving derogatory information along with determined that will none of them could, inside the normal course, result in federal prosecution.
However, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia determined that will that will material demonstrated conduct unbecoming an officer inside the Saudi Royal Air Force along with Royal Navy along with the 21 cadets have been dis-enrolled via their training curriculum inside the U.S. military along with will be returning to Saudi Arabia (later today).
The Kingdom has assured me that will the item will review each of these cases under their code of military justice along with criminal code. The Kingdom has also agreed that will we will have full access to anyone we want to interview in Saudi Arabia along with any documents relevant to our investigation. Indeed, the item has already been providing documents. Further, the Kingdom has assured us that will, if we later decide to charge any of those being sent back to Saudi Arabia in connection with that will counterterrorism investigation, the item will return them for trial.
We appreciate Saudi Arabia’s cooperation in that will case.
Finally, I want to address an issue regarding the shooter’s phones.
The shooter possessed two Apple iPhones, seen on posters here.
Within one day of the shooting, the FBI sought along with received court authorization based on probable cause to search both phones in an effort to run down all leads along with figure out with whom the shooter was communicating.
During the gunfight with first responders, the shooter disengaged long enough to place one of the phones on the floor along with shoot just one round into the device. the item also appears the some other phone was damaged.
Our experts at the FBI crime lab were able to fix both damaged phones so they are operational.
However, both phones are engineered to make the item virtually impossible to unlock them without the password. the item will be very important to know with whom along with about what the shooter was communicating before he died.
We have asked Apple for their help in unlocking the shooter’s iPhones. So far Apple has not given us any substantive assistance. that will situation perfectly illustrates why the item will be critical that will investigators be able to get access to digital evidence once they have obtained a court order based on probable cause. We call on Apple along with some other technology companies to help us find a solution to ensure that will we can better protect the lives of Americans along with prevent future attacks.
With that will, I will turn things over to Deputy Director Bowdich.
[Barr Transcript Ends – Video Continues]