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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: Trump tells confidants he plans to pardon Michael Flynn

Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

President Trump has told confidants he plans to pardon his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts, two sources with direct knowledge of the discussions tell Axios.

Behind the scenes: Sources with direct knowledge of the discussions said Flynn will be part of a series of pardons that Trump issues between now and when he leaves office.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
4 hours ago - World

Remote work shakes up geopolitics

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The global adoption of remote work may leave the rising powers in the East behind.

The big picture: Despite India's and China's economic might, these countries have far fewer remote jobs than the U.S. or Europe. That's affecting the emerging economies' resilience amid the pandemic.

Trump gives Biden access to presidential intelligence briefings

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The Trump White House on Tuesday gave President-elect Biden access to daily presidential intelligence briefings, a source familiar with the matter tells Axios.

Why it matters: Trump has refused to share the briefs until now, as he continues to challenge the result of the election and declines to concede. The president's acquiescence comes as another sign that the transition to a Biden administration is taking place.

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