No evidence California shooters were part of cell: FBI director

22 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Potential legal whirlwind for child of San Bernardino shooters.

When Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farook opened fire inside the San Bernardino Inland Regional Center on Dec. 2, their rampage yielded not only 14 dead and a nation still reeling, but a small, forgotten victim: their six-month-old baby girl. FBI investigators are now operating on the belief that San Bernardino terrorists Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik were individually “radicalized,” and for “quite some time,” possibly starting as early as 2013 — before the rise of ISIS and its Internet propaganda machine.

Days after the shooting, Farook’s older sister, 32-year-old Saira Khan, petitioned for custody of her niece; the court will hold a hearing on her request next month. On one side is something called Juvenile Dependency Court, which typically rules without fanfare on the fate of children who need protection from abusive or neglectful parents. On the other, the singular set of horrors committed by this particular mother and father, and a high-profile investigation that includes close scrutiny of their living relatives.

In fact, friends invariably called the 28-year-old Farook a “very nice person,” while his landlord even described him as a “very gentle person.” He enjoyed working on old cars and shooting hoops. Given her parents’ carnage, will authorities allow this baby to grow up with her family, or will she be placed in a new one, perhaps with the improbable goal of starting over? “The basic outline of a case in which both parents of a baby die is not a rare event.

When that happens and family members are willing to take custody, family members get custody,” says Scott Altman, a professor and family law expert at the University of Southern California School of Law. Before dressing in austere Islamic clothing, she was even viewed as a “modern girl.” Farook and Malik devoted themselves to Islamic study, which culminated in both of them memorizing the Koran, a high honor in Islam.

California law is clear (if not so simply written): When a child is no longer under her parents’ custody, “preferential consideration shall be given to a request by a relative of a child for placement of a child with the relative.” But before that can happen, even in a conventional dependency case, the law requires a judge and social workers to assess whether that relative is suitable. The law provides a straightforward checklist of logical attributes, including the “good moral character” of the relative and that relative’s ability to provide “a safe, secure and stable environment for the child.” Lawyers call California’s inclination to place children with family “the relative preference.” But according to Andrew Cain, who supervises legal work in the dependency system for the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, “that doesn’t mean the child will be automatically placed with a relative if [the relative] passes a few background checks. Before long, Farook was slaughtering fellow Americans, many of them co-workers, shooting them at point-blank range with his wife by his side, the two of them stopping only to reload.

The court has to decide what is in the best interest of the child.” The “best interest” standard is familiar in law, but can authorities reach a conventional decision in a case like this, with circumstances this horrifying, and tempers running at this high a pitch? “Because this is being done in the public eye, the courts may act differently than they ordinarily would,” says Deborah Wald, a certified family law specialist and member of the Academy of California Adoption Lawyers. We saw the same transformation in the Tsarnaev brothers of Boston, who were considered “nice” and “normal,” even partiers — until their mother made them stick their noses in their holy books and get religion. In the words of David Donner, a family and juvenile court lawyer who specializes in custody matters, “this county has been traumatized by the event, which could impact how it assesses this minor’s best interests in determining an adoptive home.” “In this case, the screening process will be done with particular care,” adds Wald, “because once the state takes custody of the child, it’s on the state if they make a mistake in the placement.” Several lawyers, who are not involved in the case, cautioned that they’d seen nothing to suggest that Saira Khan would not make a fit custodian for her niece. Within a matter of just a couple of years of becoming more fervent in their Muslim faith, these “typical American boys” were making shrapnel bombs and blowing off limbs of innocent bystanders at the Boston Marathon to “punish” fellow Americans for supporting wars in Muslim lands.

Tsarnaev said. “And that’s how Tamerlan started reading about Islam, and he started praying, and he got more and more and more into his religion.” The change was dramatic in both boys, who stopped partying and started hating — Jews, Christians, America. Suddenly they were growing out Islamic beards and saying they were “willing to die for Islam.” A similar change came over the Chattanooga jihadist, Mohammad Abdulazeez, who was described as “very friendly” — until he became intensely observant in his faith and saw it as his religious duty to fatally gun down five soldiers in Tennessee earlier this year. Before she does, a California court will try to apply conventional rules to an unimaginable case, one where pure innocence abuts pure evil, and a life yet to be lived hangs in the balance. Lisa Green is an MSNBC legal analyst and author of “On Your Case: A Comprehensive, Compassionate (and Only Slightly Bossy) Legal Guide for Every Stage of a Woman’s Life.”

Almost to a person, suspects are described by family, friends, neighbors or co-workers as “nice” — that is the universal adjective for these mass murderers — until they get closer to their religion and suddenly seek out infidels to kill. “Evidence exists to demonstrate that a greater level of adherence to Islamic law correlates to a greater likelihood of violence,” said FBI veteran John Guandolo, who worked some of the nation’s biggest terrorism cases out of the bureau’s Washington field office after 9/11. Danish linguist Tina Magaard and a team of researchers spent three years examining the texts of the 10 largest religions to see if any incite violence. “The texts of Islam are clearly distinct from the other religions’ texts, as they, to a higher degree, call for violence and aggression against followers of other faiths,” she concluded. “There are also direct incitements to terror.” A 2010 study of 45,000 teens by a German criminal research institute, moreover, found that young religious Muslim boys were much more likely to use violence than their non-Muslim counterparts, even when social factors were taken into account. Unlike federal agents and investigators working terrorism cases on the ground, higher-ups in Washington are too clouded by politically correct fantasies about Islam to accept what is self-evident.

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