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Military personnel carry a transfer case for a service member who died in the Pensacola shooting, Dec. 8, 2019. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The FBI uncovered cellphone evidence that links al-Qaeda to last year's shooting at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, that killed three service members, the New York Times reports.

The state of play: The agency discovered that the gunman, a Saudi Air Force cadet training with the American military, communicated with an operative of a branch of the terrorist group who encouraged the attacks.

  • The FBI found the texts by bypassing the security features on at least one of the shooter's two iPhones without help from Apple, which refused to give the military access to the encrypted phone data.
  • It is unclear whether the al-Qaeda operative specifically directed the shooter to carry out the shooting, but an official told the Times that the shooter was in contact with the terrorist branch, including its leadership, up until the attack.

The big picture: The shooting increased tensions between the U.S. and Saudi governments, which were already elevated after the assassination of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey in 2o18.

  • And whether law enforcement has the right to access encrypted data on smartphones remains unsettled and is one of the most hotly debated issues in tech, with no clear middle ground.

What's next: Attorney General Bill Barr is set to address the finding during an 11am news conference.

  • Barr said earlier this year that the shooting was an "act of terrorism" and that the Saudi gunman was determined to have been "motivated by jihadist ideology."

Go deeper: Florida shooting spirals into international incident

Go deeper

Scoop: Border officials project 13,000 child migrants in May

The "El Chaparral" border crossing at Tijuana. Photo: Stringer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.

Why it matters: That projection would exceed the height of the 2019 crisis, which led to the infamous "kids-in-cages" disaster. It also underscores a rapidly escalating crisis for the Biden administration.

4 hours ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia facilities in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.

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