San Bernardino massacre: Tashfeen Malik shot first as her husband hesitated, reports claim

December 7, 2015 1:37 pm

Investigators
are looking into whether Tashfeen Malik radicalised her American-born
husband and was the driving force in the San Bernardino massacre plot.
That
possibility emerged late last week when it was disclosed that the
Pakistani-born Malik had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group
in a Facebook post at about the same time she and husband Syed Farook
launched the attack Wednesday that left 14 people dead at a holiday
luncheon.
Britain’s Sunday Times reported that Malik shot first during the attack while Farook, 28, appeared to “hesitate”.
Federal
investigators continued trying to establish what pushed the couple to
carry out what appears to be the deadliest attack on American soil by
Islamic extremists since 9/11.

“I think I can’t say definitively right now what led either of
these two pick up guns and become murderers. I consider that is the
focus of our investigation,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on
NBC’s Meet the Press.
“We’re looking at everything we can
find out about these two killers’ lives – how they grew up, where they
grew up, how they met. All of those things will provide guidance.”
Lynch
said the FBI terrorism investigation so far has involved “over 300
interviews, several locations searched, a lot of information being
processed, being analysed and being gathered, and more to come.”

An unidentified woman and elderly man leave the Pakistan house of Gulzar Ahmed Malik, the father of Tashfeen Malik. Photo / Getty Images
An unidentified woman and elderly man leave
the Pakistan house of Gulzar Ahmed Malik, the father of Tashfeen Malik.
Photo / Getty Images
One US official said there appeared to be nothing in Farook’s history that would implicate him as the driver of the attack.
Separately,
a law enforcement official said investigators were looking into whether
Malik was radicalized in the Middle East, where she spent considerable
time, and used her 2014 marriage to Farook to penetrate the US and
commit jihad. But the official said it was only one among a number of
theories being pursued.
The two officials were not authorised to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
While
radical Islamic groups at times have mobilised women as suicide
bombers, and jihadist women may exhort their men to attacks, it is
extremely rare in conservative Muslim societies for female jihadists to
take part in actual combat, as Malik did.
Malik, 29, and Farook,
28, were killed in a furious shootout with police hours after they
opened fire with assault rifles on a gathering of Farook’s colleagues
from the San Bernardino County public health department, where he worked
as a restaurant inspector.

Mourners at a vigil for victims of the mass shooting. Photo / Getty Images
Mourners at a vigil for victims of the mass shooting. Photo / Getty Images
Former college classmates of Malik’s and others who knew
her in Pakistan said that in recent years, she began dressing more
conservatively – including wearing a traditional Muslim scarf that
covered nearly her entire face – and became more fervent in her faith.
Former classmate Afsheen Butt said Malik showed drastic changes after a trip to Saudi Arabia in late 2008 or early 2009.
“She
used to tell us that this is the real life. We are a nation that has
strayed from the right path,” Butt said. “She used to give us Islamic
religious literature.”
Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Major
General Mansour Al-Turki said authorities there had received no
indication Malik was radicalised in Saudi Arabia.
Pakistani
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said Sunday that investigators
so far had found no evidence linking Malik to Islamic militants. He
said his country was ready to share any information it has about Malik
and her family.
“We have nothing to hide,” he said.
Meanwhile,
police took people into the parking lot of the Inland Regional Centre,
where the attack occurred, to retrieve their cars, which had been stuck
at the crime scene. Some people hugged as they waited to get into the
police cars. One man wore a T-shirt with the logo “SB Strong.”

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