The FBI has requested that Apple “unlock” an iPhone used by one of the perpetrators of the San Bernardino workplace shooting. Here, we’ll look at the details of the case and various factors that should affect which side you choose to support.
First, let’s look at the facts, courtesy of the Wikipedia article about the attack, unless otherwise noted.
On December 2, 2015, 14 people were killed and 22 were seriously injured when Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik opened fire on Syed’s coworkers. They were at a combined semi-annual departmental event and holiday party/luncheon at the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. Syed was at the event but left midway through after posing for photos with coworkers.
- An unidentified source stated that several coworkers appeared to recognize Syed’s voice and build.
- The suspects left behind two poorly-constructed pipe bombs. They were likely intended to harm rescue workers but never detonated.
- The suspects fled the scene of the shooting in an SUV. The police stopped the SUV and gunfire was exchanged. One of the perpetrators was killed attempting to leave the SUV. The other died inside the vehicle.
- Syed Rizwan Farook was born in Chicago, IL in June of 1987. He was a US citizen, although his parents immigrated from Pakistan.
The suspects smashed their personal mobile phones, hard drives, and just about anything with digital memory. However, they were not entirely successful.[ABC] FBI computer forensics analysts will attempt to reconstruct and extract any digital information they can, but it is expected to be painstaking work.
The iPhone 5C that is at the centre of this issue was not owned by the suspects. Instead, it was owned by the San Bernardino County.
Questions and Answers
|Was this a terrorist attack?
|Yes and no. There seems to be little doubt that the perpetrators, although acting alone, were already radicalized. It was likely that they were going to perform a terrorist act sooner or later. As it turns out, they decided to direct their attack at Syed’s coworkers, which is a crime not typically associated with terrorism. Usually, terrorist attacks are aimed at random strangers that just happen to be in the vicinity of the shooting and/or bomb. Deciding the matter, however, was a December 6th prime-time address delivered from the US White House Oval Office by US President Barack Obama in which he defined the shooting as an act of terrorism.