The FBI needs help unlocking another terrorist’s iPhone

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iPhone 7 Home button
iPhone's security has the FBI stumped.
Photo: Ste Smith

The FBI and Apple could be on a collision course for another legal showdown over a dead terrorist’s locked iPhone.

Apple refused to comply with the FBI’s demands to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone eight months ago. That led to a very public legal battle over privacy and security. Now the FBI needs help again after obtaining the iPhone of a terrorist that stabbed 10 people in a Minnesota mall.


ISIS took credit for the terrorist Dahir Adan’s stabbing spree on social media after he was shot and killed by a police officer. Adan’s iPhone was recovered, but it’s locked with a passcode.

FBI special agent Rich Thorton told attendees at a press conference in St. Cloud, Minnesota today that the federal agency is still trying to find a way to into the iPhone.

“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.”

The FBI didn’t reveal the iPhone model or which version of iOS it is running. The San Bernardino shooter had an iPhone 5c running iOS 9. After Apple refused to hack the device, the FBI was eventually able to unlock it by paying an Israeli security firm a ton of money for a hack.

Agent Thorton didn’t say whether they have requested help from Apple yet. The agency has already analyzed more than 780 gigabytes of data from multiple computers belonging to Adan. An extensive review of his social media activity is still underway.