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

Updated 40 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 a.m. ET: 31,346,086 — Total deaths: 965,294— Total recoveries: 21,518,790Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,858,130 — Total deaths: 199,890 — Total recoveries: 2,615,949 — Total tests: 95,841,281Map.
  3. Health: CDC says it mistakenly published guidance about COVID-19 spreading through air.
  4. Media: Conservative blogger who spread COVID-19 misinformation worked for Fauci's agency.
  5. Politics: House Democrats file legislation to fund government through Dec. 11.
  6. World: U.K. upgrades COVID alert level as Europe sees worrying rise in infections — "The Wake-Up Call" warns the West about the consequences of mishandling a pandemic.
2 hours ago - Technology

Why Puerto Rico is still struggling to get online

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Internet connectivity remains a weak link for the disaster-wracked U.S. territory Puerto Rico, and some experts fear a new tranche of Federal Communications Commission subsidies set aside just for the island might not help the people most in need of a broadband connection.

Why it matters: Puerto Rico is locked out of most federal funding available to U.S. states to help expand internet service. The island risks being left behind as carriers expand and upgrade high-speed internet networks elsewhere, even as infrastructure-damaging tropical storms come faster and harder and the pandemic makes broadband even more of a must-have.

The price of Washington's stimulus failure

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

America's elected representatives have failed America.

Why it matters: The bipartisan inability to deliver economic stimulus could impede economic growth for months to come. It will create widespread damage across America — from small businesses to large industries to schools and day cares — and leave many Americans without jobs or homes.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!