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Security

FBI looks into unlocking Minnesota mall stabber's iPhone

The locked iPhone case echoes the FBI's legal battle with Apple over the San Bernardino shooter's device.

James Martin/CNET

The Minnesota man suspected of stabbing 10 people in a mall before police fatally shot him left behind his iPhone. Now, FBI agents are looking into unlocking his iPhone as part of the investigation.

The FBI says Dahir Adan, 20, attacked several shoppers on September 17 in a frenzy, asking his victims if they were Muslim before he stabbed them. ISIS claimed responsibility for attack shortly after. FBI director James Comey told the House Judiciary Committee his agency is reviewing Adan's electronic devices -- but is having issues getting into his iPhone.

The device remains locked, as agents are "exploring technical and legal options," Minneapolis FBI spokesman Jeff Van Nest said. He declined to specify what model the iPhone was.

Apple did not respond to requests for comment.

The alleged terrorist's parents thought Adan was heading to the mall to pick up a preordered iPhone 7.

Adan's case echoes the FBI's battle with Apple over unlocking the iPhone 5C owned by Syed Farook, the San Bernardino shooter. The agency demanded the tech giant create a tool that would help the FBI break into the terrorist's device, but ultimately gave up as Apple refused.

The agency spent an estimated $1.3 million on a tool to break into the San Bernardino gunman's iPhone, and ultimately found nothing.