Today, Billy Barr and Chris Wray had a press conference to announce that — in spite of his Muslim Ban — Trump had permitted an affiliate of AQAP, Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, into this country, and onto a military base, where he bought a gun and murdered three sailors.
The evidence we’ve been able to develop from the killer’s devices shows that the Pensacola attack was actually the brutal culmination of years of planning and preparation, by a longtime AQAP associate.
The new evidence shows that al-Shamrani had radicalized not after training here in the U.S. but at least as far back as 2015, and that he had been connecting and associating with a number of dangerous AQAP operatives ever since. It shows that al-Shamrani described a desire to learn about flying years ago, around the same time he talked about attending the Saudi Air Force Academy in order to carry out what he called a “special operation.” And he then pressed his plans forward, joining the Air Force and bringing his plot here—to America.
Thanks to a lot of hard work by our people, we now know that al-Shamrani continued to associate with AQAP even while living in Texas and in Florida; and that in the months before the attack, while he was here among us, he talked with AQAP about his plans and tactics—taking advantage of the information he acquired here, to assess how many people he could try to kill.
After presenting this evidence, Barr and Wray didn’t announce that Trump is ending his Muslim Ban or retargeting it to focus on countries like Saudi Arabia that have always been a risk for terrorism. Barr and Wray didn’t explain how it was that the Trump Administration’s vetting was so poor that they let Alshamrani into a flight training program in Pensacola without vetting his social media or searching his phone on arrival. They didn’t explain how they’ll make sure foreign military officers we’re training don’t continue to plot attacks under our nose.
Instead, Barr and Wray used this opportunity to explain that Apple has to make all our phones less secure even after the FBI succeeded in accessing Alshamrani’s phones.
Barr and Wray didn’t explain why the obvious solution is not, instead, to properly vet military officers from countries that have attacked us in the past, including consensual searches of phones as those officers enter the country.