Another Apple versus the Feds fight may be in the cards, as the FBI confirmed on Thursday that they are looking into their options for accessing the information stored on an iPhone used by terrorist Dahir Adan, who in mid-September stabbed 10 people in a Minnesota mall, before being shot and killed by an off-duty police officer.
While terrorist organization ISIS has claimed credit for the attack via social media, officials say no evidence has been found that the group had a hand in planning or executing the attack.
At a press conference in St. Cloud, Minnesota today, FBI special agent Rich Thorton said that the FBI has obtained the iPhone of Dahir Adan, who stabbed 10 people in a Minnesota mall before a police officer shot and killed him. (The fundamentalist militant organization ISIS claimed credit for the attack via social media.) As in Farook’s case, the attacker’s phone is locked with a passcode. And Thorton said the FBI is still trying to figure out how to gain access to the phone’s contents.
“Dahir Adan’s iPhone is locked,” Thornton told reporters, “We are in the process of assessing our legal and technical options to gain access to this device and the data it may contain.”
This could lay the groundwork for another legal battle between the government and Apple, if the FBI decided to try and compel the Cupertino firm to aid them in unlocking the device. The model of iPhone, and the version of iOS the device is running, is currently known only to federal law enforcement personnel. Data on an iOS device running iOS 8 or higher is encrypted, and cannot be accessed by anyone other than the users, via a passcode, or their fingerprint, via Touch ID.
Earlier this year, a U.S. Federal Judge ordered Apple to assist federal investigators in recovering data on an iPhone 5c that was used by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the December 2015 San Bernardino shooting tragedy. Apple refused, and a legal battle ensued, ending only when Justice Department reportedly enlisted the help of Israeli mobile forensics company Cellebrite in accessing the information on Farook’s iPhone.
The FBI hasn’t yet responded to WIRED’s inquiries about the second locked iPhone, and Apple has also declined to comment on whether the FBI had asked for its assistance in accessing the information stored on the handset.