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​FBI unable to crack San Bernardino killers' cell phone

FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee at the Hart Senate Building on February 9, 2016 in Washington, D.C.

Gabriella Demczuk, Getty Images

WASHINGTON -- FBI Director James Comey said Tuesday one of the phones used by the killers in the San Bernardino, California, attacks remains inaccessible to investigators more than two months after 14 people were fatally shot.

Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey cited the case as an example of how encryption is affecting counterterrorism efforts. But he said the dilemma of bad guys "going dark" is mostly affecting state and local law enforcement officials who are trying to solve murder, drug and car accident cases.

Companies are increasingly making devices such as cellphones with encryption that allows only the people communicating to read the messages.

Comey said it's a big problem when law enforcement armed with a search warrant can't open a phone, even when a judge says there's probable cause to have it opened.

The December 2 shooting left 14 people dead and 22 others wounded.

Investigators were also seeking information about an 18-minute gap in the timeline between the deadly attack at the Inland Regional Center and the shootout in which both attackers, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, were killed.

The man who bought the rifles used in the attack, Enrique Marquez Jr., has pleaded not guilty to charges in a federal indictment accusing him of conspiring with Farook and to provide material support to terrorists.

The White House has called on the tech industry for help in disrupting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other terrorist groups. Investigators say the San Bernardino shooting was inspired by ISIS.