FBI: Calif. shooters privately discussed commitment to jihad

22 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Couple in California shootings exchanged private messages on mutual commitment to jihad.

The husband and wife who shot and killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif., this month used private online messages to express their commitment to Islamic extremists, but they did not make those communications on social media before the attack, the director of the F.B.I. said Wednesday. The director’s remarks indicate that U.S. authorities who were considering the fiancé visa application of Tashfeen Malik would not have discovered evidence of suspected radicalization even if they had reviewed her social media history before she was allowed to join Sayed Farook in the United States in 2014, a year before the couple launched their attack which left 14 dead and 22 others wounded. There was also no evidence Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his wife Tashfeen Malik, 29, were part of an organized cell or had any contact with overseas armed groups, Comey added. Comey also said the July 16 attack in two military sites Chattanooga, during which five U.S. service members were killed, was “inspired and motivated by foreign terrorist propaganda.” The FBI had previously hesitated to use the word terrorism in relation to the attack.

Earlier, Malik was wrongly said to have pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), on a social media account under a different name. A Facebook official had said Malik praised ISIL in a post around the very moment the couple stormed a social services center where Farook’s co-workers from San Bernardino County’s health department had gathered for a holiday party.

That process, he said, had begun before the emergence of the Islamic State — also known as ISIS or ISIL — as the global leader of violent extremism. “In San Bernardino, as I’ve said before, we see in the killers, Malik and Farook, two people who were radicalized before the emergence of ISIL,” Mr. Here’s the headline on a New York Times story that appeared on page A1 on Sunday: “Visa Screening Missed an Attacker’s Zealotry on Social Media.” The story was straightforward, noting that three immigration checks for Malik had missed something critical: “None uncovered what Ms. Comey said at Police Headquarters in Lower Manhattan. “And so untangling the motivations of which particular terrorist propaganda motivated in what way remains a challenge in these investigations, and our work is ongoing there.” “But one thing we’re trying to understand is, ‘So where were they for four hours after the attack and what else, if anything, were they planning to do and was there anybody who helped them or assisted them or supported them in some way,’ ” he added.

In the wake of the attack, there was widespread speculation over the couple’s motive to kill, with many wondering whether the incident was sparked by a workplace grievance or a violent ideology. The reporting is sourced to “American law enforcement officials,” and the existence of these postings is the centerpiece of the article. “Had the authorities found the posts years ago, they might have kept her out of the country,” reads the story. “But immigration officials do not routinely review social media as part of their background checks, and there is a debate inside the Department of Homeland Security over whether it is even appropriate to do so.” The Los Angeles Times, in a Monday article, alleged that Malik had “sent at least two private messages on Facebook to a small group of Pakistani friends in 2012 and 2014, pledging her support for Islamic jihad and saying she hoped to join the fight one day,” according to the report from Richard A. The San Bernardino attack was the worst incident of gun violence in the U.S. since the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Comey reiterated a push by many law enforcement agencies around the country to change how technology companies encrypt applications to make it easier for agents to access messages with a court order. President Obama is scheduled to visit San Bernardino where he will meet with the families of victims privately, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday during a press briefing.

Comey said he wasn’t yet ready to talk about whether the suspects’ family members should have alerted law enforcement, but he added, “I am highly confident that in this case, as in nearly all of our other cases involving radicalization, that somebody saw something that was concerning and obviously didn’t tell law enforcement.” Mr. She made a public call to jihad, and they didn’t target it,” said Texan senator Ted Cruz. “It’s not a lack of competence that is preventing the Obama administration from stopping these attacks. It is political correctness.” Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina echoed that claim. “For heaven’s sakes, every parent in America is checking social media and every employer is as well, but our government can’t do it,” she said. The government’s recent efforts to prevent radicalization and identify extremists have faced challenges, especially in communities where members are reluctant to trust law enforcement. NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said he is working with partners, including religious leaders and the Belgian police, to develop a program that will give individuals a place to turn if they see signs of radicalization in someone they know.

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