The FBI has reported difficulty unlocking the encrypted cell phones used by the terrorists who perpetrated the December 2 attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino.
The cells phones, allegedly used by terrorists Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, are not only encrypted, but were also allegedly damaged by the couple in an apparent attempt to destroy them.
Reports indicate FBI officials are hopeful the phones will contain what may be key information regarding the couple’s connection to potential terrorist network(s) as well as other potential criminal activities. The agency also hopes when the encryption is broken it will help FBI investigators solve the mystery of 18 unaccounted for minutes in the couple’s activity on December 2 between the time of the massacre and their ultimate demise via a shootout with police. The FBI has asked for the public’s help regarding the couple’s whereabouts during that time.
Several media outlets have reported the FBI is less than encouraged relative to the possibility of a successful outcome to this effort. Should the agency fail, it may add fuel to an already contentious debate over whether tech companies should give law enforcement agencies so called ‘backdoor’ access to encrypted devices like smartphones, computers, tablets, etc.—the battle on that front as it relates to issues of privacy continues.
Farook and Malik attacked Farook’s fellow employees during a meeting/holiday celebration. The attack resulted in the deaths of 14 individuals and left 22 people seriously injured.
As the FBI continues its investigation, Enrique Marquez Jr. a longtime friend and former neighbor of Farook, has been arrested and charged on several counts including conspiracy in this case. Marquez admitted he purchased the weapons and explosives used in the December 2nd attack.
Marquez pled not guilty to several charges including conspiracy and currently awaits trial.