Investigators turn to electronics for terror insight

Law enforcement officials are not saying whether they will share those hacking methods with Apple

(CNN) – The FBI is lending a hand in the investigation into last week’s deadly terror attacks in Belgium. They are using modern technology to help Belgian authorities crack the mystery.

Belgian officials, scrambling to track the terror cell that struck in Brussels, could not access some of the data on laptops and cellphones they confiscated in raids. Now, they’re getting crucial help from the FBI.

U.S. officials telling CNN, computers, hard-drives, cell phones of Brussels suspects are being combed-through for clues by the bureau.

“Think of the phone or the computer as a sort of memory-card, right? So it’s going to link investigators to everyone they were in contact with, what websites were they looking at, how were they devising their plan,” said Juliet Kayyem, a CNN National Security Analyst.

The Wall Street Journal reports a laptop computer, seized in Brussels, led investigators to a nephew of the two brothers who blew themselves up in the suicide-attacks last week. The journal reports officials found traces of explosives in the nephew’s hair and clothing.

But the FBI could also help the Belgians crack the terrorists’ cell-phone security codes. That could be even more critical since analysts say Belgian authorities are at a disadvantage with human intelligence.

“The level of their intelligence within the community of jihadists, those circles here, is poor– and they admit as much, that they don’t have the resources to really get inside these communities, which are if you like almost hermetically-sealed off from the rest of society,” said Tim Lister, a CNN Contributor.

In the meantime, the FBI’s claiming success in a notorious terrorism case on American soil. Government officials say the FBI was able to break into the iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. They did so with the help of a third-party hacker. Not with Apple’s help, even though the bureau had been battling Apple in court to get the company’s help.

Related Story: FBI iPhone solution may not necessarily crack other cases

Law enforcement officials are not saying what they found on Farook’s phone. Apple wants to know how the phone was breached, and privacy advocates say the FBI should tell the company:

“The government is also gambling that no one else will independently discover this information and use it to attack Apple’s customers. I personally feel like the government should report this information. Cybersecurity is more important than the FBI’s surveillance capabilities,” said Chris Soghoian of ACLU.

Law enforcement officials are not saying whether they will share those hacking methods with Apple. They also will not reveal who specifically helped the FBI break into the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone.

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