San Bernardino shooting is deadliest terror attack since 9/11 #SanBernadino

December 5, 2015 6:32 am

 

FBI,
San Bernardino City and San Bernardino County Sheriff’s officials
continue their investigation into the mass shooting. Photo / AP

The FBI announced Friday that it is investigating the mass shooting
at a Southern office party as an act of terrorism, but the
agency’s director said there is no indication the husband and wife who
killed 14 people were part of a larger plot or members of a terror cell.
If
the investigation confirms the massacre was inspired by Islamic
extremism, it would be the deadliest such terrorist attack on U.S. soil
since Sept. 11, 2001.
While authorities did not cite specific
evidence that led them to the terrorism focus, a U.S. law enforcement
official said the wife, Tashfeen Malik, had under a Facebook alias
pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and its leader.

Tashfeen Malik, left, and Syed Farook. Photos / AP
Tashfeen Malik, left, and Syed Farook. Photos / AP
A Facebook official said Malik praised Islamic State in a post at 11 a.m.

Wednesday, around the time the couple stormed a San Bernardino social service center and opened fire.
Malik
and her husband, Syed Farook, died in a fierce gunbattle with
authorities several hours after their commando-style assault on a
gathering of Farook’s colleagues from San Bernardino County’s health
department.
An Islamic State-affiliated service called Malik
and Farook “supporters” of their Islamist cause but stopped short of
claiming responsibility for the attack.
FBI Director James Comey
would not discuss whether anyone affiliated with Islamic State
communicated back to Malik, but he said there was no indication yet that
the plot was directed by any other foreign terror group. He also
declined to rule out that future possibility.
“The investigation
so far has developed indications of radicalization by the killers and of
potential inspiration by foreign terrorist organizations,” Comey said.
He cautioned that the investigation has not yet shown evidence the couple was part of a larger group.
Despite
mounting signs of the couple’s radicalization, there “is a lot of
evidence that doesn’t quite make sense,” Comey said in a nod to the fact
the investigation was just two days old.

A vehicle at the scene of a shootout in San Bernardino. Photo / AP
A vehicle at the scene of a shootout in San Bernardino. Photo / AP
Attorneys representing Farook’s family urged the public and media to wait for specific evidence before jumping to conclusions.
They said none of his relatives had any indication either Farook or his wife held extremist views.
David
Bowdich, head of the FBI’s Los Angeles office, said “a number of pieces
of evidence” point to terrorism and that the agency was focused on that
idea “for good reason.” He would not elaborate.
The U.S.
official who revealed the Facebook post was not authorized to discuss
the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The
Facebook official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because the
person was not allowed under corporate policy to be quoted by name, said
the company discovered Wednesday’s post on Thursday, removed the
profile from public view and reported its contents to law enforcement.
Bowdich
said he was not aware of the Islamic State-affiliated Aamaq news
service report but was not surprised the Islamic State would attempt to
link itself to the attack.
He said investigators were looking carefully to determine if there is an Islamic State connection.
Farook,
a U.S. citizen who grew up in Southern California, and Malik rented a
townhome in nearby Redlands where investigators said they found an
arsenal of ammunition and homemade bombs.
On Friday morning, the
property’s owner allowed reporters inside. The surreal scene – reporters
walking among baby items, handling family photos and looking at dirty
dishes in a sink – was broadcast live on cable TV.

Media trample through the home of Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik. Photo / AP
Media trample through the home of Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik. Photo / AP
While appearing unseemly, there was nothing compromising
from an investigative standpoint as Bowdich said the FBI was done with
the scene.
Meantime, analysts were trying to retrieve data from
two cellphones found nearby that had been crushed in an apparent attempt
to destroy the information inside.
“We hope that will take to their motivation,” he said.
Attorneys for Farook’s family urged the public not to rush to judgment.
“If
the most evidence there is to any affiliation is a Facebook account
under another person’s name … then that’s hardly anything at all,”
attorney David Chesley said.
Chesley and his legal partner,
Mohammad Abuershaid, described Malik as “just a housewife” who closely
followed Muslim traditions.
They said Farook’s mother, who lived with the couple, never saw any of the weapons or bombs authorities found.
The
FBI questioned her Wednesday night and, according to the attorneys,
refused to release her until Farook’s siblings came for questioning.
The
couple’s orphaned 6-month-old daughter is in the care of child
protective services, and the family will try to obtain custody her next
week.
Farook had no criminal record, and neither he nor his wife
was under scrutiny by local or federal law enforcement before the
attack, authorities said.
Malik, 27, was a Pakistani who grew up in Saudi Arabia and came to the U.S. in 2014 on a fiancée visa.
Farook,
a 28-year-old restaurant health inspector for the county, was born in
Chicago to Pakistani parents but raised in Southern California.
Law
enforcement officials have long warned that Americans acting in
sympathy with Islamic extremists – though not on direct orders – could
launch an attack inside the U.S. Using slick propaganda, the Islamic
State in particular has urged sympathizers worldwide to commit violence
in their countries.
Two weeks ago, with Americans on edge over
the Islamic State attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead, Comey said
that U.S. authorities had no specific or credible intelligence pointing
to an attack on American soil.
Since March 2014, 71 people have
been charged in the U.S. in connection with supporting the Islamic
State, including 56 this year, according to a recent report from the
George Washington University Program on Extremism.
Though most are men, “women are taking an increasingly prominent role in the jihadist world,” the report said.

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