A look at the K-1 visa that gave San Bernardino shooter entry into US

8 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Radicalized’ couple practiced at Los Angeles-area shooting ranges before deadly attack.

WASHINGTON — Tashfeen Malik, the wife accused in the California shootings, was one of just 519 Pakistanis allowed into the country last year specifically to marry a U.S. citizen.THE husband and wife who carried out the San Bernardino shootings had been radicalised and had taken part in target practice within days of the attack that killed 14 people. “We believe both were radicalised and had been for some time,” said David Bowdich, assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles office.

Tashfeen Malik is the Pakistani-born woman who took up an assault rifle and joined her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, in killing 14 people in last week’s horrifying mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. That raised the prospect that Malik’s anti-American sentiments could have surfaced before U.S. officials evaluated whether she should be allowed to move here. An instructor at Riverside Magnum Range — about 20 miles from the Inland Regional Center where the two targeted Farook’s co-workers a few days later — said Farook visited the range on Nov. 29 and 30. The Pakistan government is trying to distance itself from this atrocity, arguing that it was the act of a radicalised individual and not connected to any IS network in Pakistan.

John Galletta said Monday that nothing was out of the ordinary about Farook’s behavior, but that he asked a representative why his rifle might be smoking, and was told it was most likely because it was new. Malik posted a message on Facebook just before the attack pledging allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the terror group Islamic State, according to officials. “We have learned and believe that both suspects were radicalized, and have been for quite some time,” David Bowdich, the FBI’s assistant director in charge in Los Angeles, told reporters in a news conference. By all accounts, she was a polite and determined student in Pakistan, demonstrably devout in her niqab, and one who had lived in Saudi Arabia with an increasingly religious father estranged from his family. The news about the couple’s motives and plotting came on a day in which the White House and Republicans pushed an array of measures in response to the attacks in Paris and California, from changing the terror-alert system to tightening visa procedures to tracking social media.

Farook’s estranged father, also named Syed Farook, told the Italian newspaper La Stampa that his son shared the ideology of the Islamic State group and was fixated on Israel. Of more than 9.9 million visas issued in fiscal 2014, just 35,925 — roughly 0.3 percent — were fiancé visas, according to State Department figures. And I will tell you right now we don’t know those answers.” Authorities also disclosed that a year before the rampage, Syed Farook’s co-workers at the county health department underwent “active shooter” training in the same conference room where he and his wife opened fire on them last week. Investigators said they continue to examine electronic devices for evidence of possible contacts between the married couple and extremists and any other potential connections to terror groups. Malik attended a religious school in the Pakistani city of Multan briefly between 2013 and 2014 but didn’t receive a diploma, Farhat Hashmi, founder of Al-Huda International Seminary, said in a statement on her website.

It was not immediately clear whether Farook attended the late-2014 session on what to do when a gunman invades the workplace, San Bernardino County spokeswoman Felisa Cardona said. Two employees who survived the attack said colleagues reacted Wednesday by trying to do as they had been trained — dropping under the tables and staying quiet so as not to attract attention. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Center. “The issue of marriage fraud has definitely gotten a lot of attention, just not as a security vulnerability.” Applicants are subject to a vetting process that includes at least one in-person interview, fingerprints, checks against U.S. terrorist watch lists and reviews of family members, travel history and places where a person has lived and worked. Bowdich said, when asked whether investigators had determined how the suspects became radicalized. “We don’t know.” Investigators have conducted more than 400 interviews and “found evidence of preplanning,” Mr.

But checks for information about an applicant against entries in intelligence databases and criminal records can be hampered if the underlying information is incomplete. DHS spokeswoman Marsha Catron said officials from DHS and the State Department are reviewing the fiancé visa program “to assess possible program enhancements.” The administration is also reviewing the Visa Waiver Program, which allows most citizens from 38 countries to travel to the United States without applying for a visa. This is the phenomenon of our times, the mobility of sinister ideas inciting murder anywhere across the globe, so long as the possible terrorist has access to an endless supply of justifications for such acts. The two assault rifles used in the attack had been legally purchased by an old friend of Farook’s, Enrique Marquez, authorities said, but they are still trying to determine how the couple got the weapons. Newly released emergency radio transmissions from the fast-moving tragedy show that police identified Farook as a suspect almost immediately, even though witnesses reported that the attackers wore black ski masks.

In addition, officials clarified details on the explosives found at the couple’s home when they executed a search warrant, saying there were 19 pipes present, though not all may have been functional pipe bombs. The killers had “gone down the dark path of radicalization,” he said, but there was no evidence they were part of a larger conspiracy or were directed by an overseas terror organization. The soon-to-be terrorists both gave a deadpan look for a photo as they moved through customs at Chicago O’Hare International Airport in July 2014, the image obtained by ABC News showed. With IS claiming responsibility and evidence mounting that Farook had multiple online and personal interactions with suspected extremists, there are sufficient grounds to assume this was an attack organised by the IS.

Meanwhile, most of the county’s 20,000 employees went back to work for the first time since the rampage five days earlier plunged the community into shock and mourning. The photo shows Malik’s first moments on US soil, as Farook had travelled to Saudi Arabia two weeks earlier to bring her back to America after they met online. The shooters attempted to destroy their digital footprint, according to sources who say digital equipment left behind from the mass shooting was smashed.

And the Republican who heads the House Homeland Security Committee is pushing a national commission to tackle thorny issues of technology and encryption. FBI computer forensics analysts in Orange County in California and at the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia, will now try to reconstruct and extract any digital information they can. Johnson, speaking at a Washington forum hosted by the national security news organization Defense One, said officials must adopt “a new system that has an intermediate level” of warning, rather than relying on the existing National Terrorism Advisory System, a 4-year-old initiative that has never been triggered. IS has declared the birth of “Wilayat Khorasan,” or the Khorasan Province, spanning parts of the country once known as the centre of al Qaeda’s activity.

Later on, the media were granted access to the California home, where they rushed in and went through personal effects, which included photo IDs and a wide array of documents and photographs — in addition to the couple’s baby toys. Among the items spread out on a bed were a Social Security card, driver’s licenses, bank statements, credit cards and a selection of business cards from Kaiser Permanente, Century 21 and UnionBanc, among many others. It will be up to Pakistan to simultaneously maintain the successes of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, tackle terrorism in the mainland and prevent IS from gaining a foothold in Pakistan.

His decision to speak in prime time reflected the White House’s concern that his message on the recent attacks hasn’t broken through, particularly in the midst of a heated presidential campaign. On Capitol Hill, stand-alone security legislation will likely be hard to pass before year’s end, but some measures could be folded into the must-pass spending bill to be released this week.

He announced no significant shift in U.S. strategy and offered no new policy prescriptions for defeating IS, underscoring both his confidence in his current approach and the lack of easy options for countering the extremist group. Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” an idea that prompted one of his rivals to call him “unhinged.” The proposed ban would apply to immigrants and visitors alike, a sweeping prohibition affecting all adherents of Islam who want to come to the US.

Among other things, the House bill would bar anyone who had traveled to countries including Syria or Iran in the last five years from using the program. The House Foreign Affairs Committee plans to vote Wednesday on legislation directing the Obama administration to lay out a policy to counter terrorists’ use of social media. In the Senate, Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R., S.D.) expects to release Tuesday a bill tightening procedures for vetting and credentialing airport workers with access to secure areas. But Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson said villifying and casting suspicion on American Muslims would threaten counterterrorism efforts and is un-American. The administration intends to make other changes, including expanding screening by U.S. officials at foreign airports and boosting outreach with Muslim leaders.

Counterterrorism experts say many of the proposed moves may help, but none on their own would eliminate the risk of people carrying out terror assaults in the U.S., particularly “lone wolf” attackers. “I think we have to do everything we can,” said Jessica Stern, a terrorism expert who co-wrote the book “ISIS: State of Terror.” “Is that going to solve the problem?

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