Key questions: San Bernardino shooters ‘radicalized,’ but did they get help?

8 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Couple had been radicalized ‘for quite some time’ before attack, officials say.

A deposit of $28,500 was made into jihadist Syed Farook’s bank account about two weeks before he and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, slaughtered 14 people in San Bernardino, a source close to the probe told Fox News.THE 66-year-old father of California jihadist Syed Rizwan Farook was placed on the FBI’s terrorist watch list as investigators expanded their probe to include the killer’s family members and friends, federal law-enforcement sources said yesterday. “Farook, although he is dead, is now officially listed by the FBI as a terrorist,” a police source told The New York Post. “His father is watch-listed because of his close association to Farook and his extensive ties to Pakistan.” After the massacre, the elder Farook tried to distance himself from his son, telling reporters, “His views were conservative.SAN BERNARDINO (AP) — In the chaotic aftermath of the San Bernardino shootings, as the wounded bled from gunshots, others lay dead and police searched for multiple killers, an officer relayed the name of a suspect to dispatchers.

Relatives and acquaintances of Malik in Pakistan said she had grown up in Saudi Arabia and had been influenced by its deeply conservative interpretation of Islam. Investigators have interviewed more than 400 people since Wednesday’s attack but are still trying to determine how long they plotted the massacre and what links if any they had with Islamic terrorist groups.

The $28,500 deposit, which was made on or about Nov. 18, came from WebBank.com, which describes itself on its website as a Utah-based provider of “national consumer and commercial private-label and bank card financing programs.” Authorities are investigating whether the transaction was a loan taken out by Farook, who earned $53,000 a year with the county as an environmental health inspector. The FBI and other agencies are also working to assemble a profile of the couple’s life and how exactly they amassed their cache of weapons, ammunition and explosives. “We are attempting to expand that investigation out and build it and build a picture of each person, the timeline and ultimately the crimes they committed,” said David Bowdich, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office. “That takes time.

The source described the financial transactions as “significant evidence of premeditation,” Fox News reported, and discount the theory that an argument at a Dec. 2 Christmas party sparked the massacre in which 14 people died and 21 were wounded. The couple, who the FBI said had become radicalized, died about four hours later in a firefight with officers in this city an hour east of Los Angeles. The shooting occurred at the Inland Regional Center, a social services agency, where the county Department of Public Health was renting the auditorium for an annual meeting. John Galletta, a firearms instructor at Riverside Magnum Range in Riverside, said Monday that Farook practiced shooting with a military-style weapon, adding that an employee described him as a “normal guy.” Two of the guns Farook and Malik used in Wednesday’s massacre — both semiautomatic rifles — had been given to the couple by a former neighbor, who was interviewed by investigators and checked himself into a mental hospital after the attacks, two law enforcement sources said. Fallout from the attack continued to play out on the national political stage, with Republican front-runner Donald Trump calling for all Muslims to be barred from entering the United States for an indefinite period until leaders “can figure out what is going on.” The incendiary statement, coming a day after President Obama sought to reassure the nation, drew immediate condemnation from the White House and several of Trump’s rivals for the GOP nomination.

Relatives of Malik, 29, said that she had moved with her father, an engineer, from a remote district of Punjab Province in Pakistan to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, when she was a young child. The developments came as officials described a sprawling global investigation into what drove the married couple to adopt extreme beliefs and whether they had any links to foreign terror organizations. “We are working with our foreign counterparts to determine as much as we can,” he said. “It’s like any other investigation, but this one is incredibly large.” More than 300 pieces of evidence have been collected — some of which were sent to Washington, D.C., to be analyzed at the FBI’s explosive device center.

Raymundo dropped to the floor and huddled under a table with other colleagues as bullets sprayed the room that had been decked out with a Christmas tree, ornaments and other seasonal decor. “It’s constant shots and constant firing, and all you can think of is, ‘Why don’t they stop?’” Raymundo said Monday in her first public comments since the slaughter. “It was just endless.” “Everyone was trying to be quiet and not draw attention to themselves as they were trained to do, to try to find as much protection as you can,” said Corwin Porter, assistant director of the department. “Unfortunately the room just didn’t provide a whole lot of protection.” Family members of witnesses said the initial gunfire lasted about 30 seconds and then the shooters reloaded and fired again before fleeing without saying a word. From 2007 to at least 2012, Malik studied in Multan, Pakistan, the main city in southern Punjab, where one faculty member recalled her as a “Saudi girl” because her religious observance was so much stricter than that of her peers. John D’Angelo of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said five guns were recovered from the shootout scene and the couple’s rented two-story townhouse. Farook, observed as quiet and withdrawn, struck up a friendship with Marquez, who shared a similar interest in tinkering with cars, a neighbor recalled.

Farook, 28, visited Saudi Arabia twice, once for the hajj pilgrimage between October 1 and October 20, 2013, and once for an off-season pilgrimage known as umrah for nine days in July 2014. Federal authorities interviewed Marquez over the weekend, and a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation said the weapons he gave to Farook were legally purchased in 2011 and 2012. Both Saudi and Pakistani officials have bristled at the suggestion that their respective countries played any role in the radicalization of Malik and Farook. Scrubbing the backgrounds of the couple — who were killed in a shootout with police hours after their rampage — has been an international effort, with cooperation from foreign governments.

In Pakistan, where Malik attended college and Farook’s parents were born, the interior minister announced that an inquiry into the shooters’ background had been launched. Filled with emotion, they draped arms around one another as they walked into the county buildings that had just reopened. “The purpose of terrorism is to make ordinary people afraid to do the ordinary things that make up their lives,” Supervisor Janice Rutherford said. “These were dedicated public servants.

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