FBI chief: San Bernardino shooters did not publicly promote jihad on social media

22 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Chattanooga rampage that killed four U.S. Marines was a terrorist attack, FBI says.

A public pledge on Facebook and social media posts were supposed to be the smoking guns connecting ISIS to San Bernardino. Discussing the evolving threat of terrorism at the New York Police Department on Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey addressed a question many have been asking since July 16, when Mohammad Abdulazeez attacked a military recruitment center in Chattanooga, then took off in an open-top Mustang for a nearby Naval Reserve Center, where he killed five service members and wounded two others before dying in a shoot-out with police. “To my mind, there’s no doubt that the Chattanooga killer was inspired and motivated by foreign terrorist organization propaganda,” Mr.NEW YORK (Reuters) – There is no evidence a married couple who killed 14 people in California this month were part of a terrorist cell, the head of the FBI said on Wednesday, confirming that investigators believe the pair were inspired but not directed by Islamic State. According to CNN, Comey added that it’s difficult to determine which terrorist group may have inspired the shooter, Mohammad Abdulazeez, 24, who killed four U.S.

The pair avoided broadcasting their views on social media — contrary to previous reports — in an apparent bid to conceal their sinister intentions, Comey said. For nearly two weeks, the massacre in San Bernardino has been characterized in the press and by government officials as an ISIS—or, at least, ISIS-inspired—attack in which social media figured prominently in the shooters’ radicalization and planning. Marines and one sailor before he was fatally shot by police. “It’s hard to entangle which particular source,” said Comey, who twice called the shooting a “terror attack,” according to Fox News. “There are lots of competing poisons out there.” • Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Marines at two military facilities in the Tennessee city. “In San Bernardino — as with Chattanooga, another terrorist attack that we dealt with in recent times — involved people consuming poison on the Internet and radicalizing,” Comey said Wednesday. Comey said the pair smashed their devices following the attack — hampering law enforcement efforts to piece together what they did over the four hours between the shooting and their fatal police confrontation. “One of the challenges in facing this hydra-headed monster is that if (ISIS) finds someone online, someone who might be willing to travel or kill in place they will begin a twitter direct messaging contact,” Comey said.

Still want to know where they were for four hours (after the attack) and what else were they planning to do and was there anybody who helped them or assisted them in some way,” Comey said. In the meantime, Americans’ understanding of what the word “terrorism” means may have also been evolving: not only abroad, but at home in the United States.

Previously, anonymous federal officials told journalists that Tashfeen Malik, the wife of Syed Farook, had posted allegiance to ISIS via a Facebook page at the time of the attack. Legally, “domestic terrorism” refers to dangerous, illegal activities on US soil that “appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping,” according to the FBI. Comey’s latest comments on the worldwide investigation of the couple and the attack they carried out at a holiday gathering of Farook’s co-workers came as U.S. That’s a change from the 1990s, when the media covered a number of high-profile domestic attacks, from “Unabomber” Theodore “Ted” Kaczynski, to Eric Rudolph’s bombing of the Atlanta Olympics, to the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

Chuck Fleischmann, who has advocated for the servicemen who died to be awarded Purple Hearts, said, “It has been five months, to the day, since our community was struck by this horrendous attack and I am thankful the FBI has finally recognized it as terrorism. The U.S. ended its system of color-coded terrorism alerts in 2011, replacing it with occasional public announcements about possible “elevated” or “imminent” threats. There’s a “reluctance to think that people who look like the majority here” can commit such violence, Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told the Monitor in November. “It’s like the pattern doesn’t exist.” Yet some recent attacks, the massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., which is believed to have been motivated by white supremacist views, have revived the idea that “terrorism” can belong to any creed or ideology, so long as it inspires violence. And now, fear of “lone wolf” attacks not directly ordered by a terrorist organization are reconfiguring views of terrorism yet again, as law enforcement grapples with the difficulty of preventing attacks whose perpetrators may be motivated by an extremist Islamic ideology, but have not directly communicated with a larger group. “Terrorism is always a politically loaded word,” former FBI agent Michael German told Voice of America after the Charleston shootings. “It’s very important that there’s consistency with that across the various ideologies because otherwise it looks discriminatory, that violence by minorities is treated more seriously than violence against minorities.” But the Chattanooga shootings seemed especially perplexing, as emerging stories painted contrasting portraits of Abdulazeez: a capable engineering student. The investigation continues but we have not found that kind of thing.” An FBI spokesperson later clarified Comey’s remarks to say the director was only speaking about events before the shooting.

We didn’t monitor the Facebook posting of the female San Bernardino terrorist because the Obama DHS [Department of Homeland Security] thought it would be inappropriate. She made a public call to jihad, and they didn’t target it.” “This is not public posting, this is private messages back and forth, just like any of us emailing a friend or a family member,” Comey said of the couple’s online communications that law enforcement officials have discovered.

But he described it as an “Internet service provider communication” that is “very common” and provides both “email service and direct messaging.” Comey said that the service is used to transmit “trillions” of messages, indicating that it is ubiquitous and well known to law enforcement. On Monday, the Los Angeles Times reported that Malik “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.” The paper attributed the information to “two top federal law enforcement officials.” Comey didn’t specify whether the couple may have used social media services, such as Facebook, to send private messages, so the information may still be accurate.

It’s not clear from the Times story whether such posts might predate any information that Comey was addressing in his remarks, or whether they were made prior to Malik ever meeting her future husband. But Comey was adamant that even though the couple were communicating with each other about jihad and martyrdom, there was nothing that the FBI could have done to intercept and read their communications. Farook was a U.S. citizen, and law enforcement couldn’t have read his communications without a court order based on some reason to believe he was associating with terrorists. “To be clear, and I think this is the way we all want it, we don’t intercept the communications of Americans,” Comey said. “This was an American citizen communicating overseas without predication to believe they’re involved in terrorist activity.

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