San Bernardino shooting: Farook tied to jihadist recruiter, officials say

11 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

FBI: California shooters radicalized at least 2 years ago.

The shooters who gunned down 14 people in San Bernardino, California last week were radicalized well before they met online, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has revealed. “Our investigation to date, which I can only say so much about at this point, indicates that they were radicalized before they starting courting or dating each other online,” FBI director James Comey, Jr. told a US Senate committee on judiciary affairs Wednesday. “And online, as early as the end of 2013, they were talking to each other about jihad and martyrdom before they became engaged and then married and lived together in the United States.” On December 2, US-born Syed Rizwan and his wife Tashfeen Malik, a Pakistani national and US resident, shot dead 14 people at a San Bernardino County Department of Public Health function. The former neighbor who provided shooter Syed Rizwan Farook with the rifles used in the San Bernardino attacks is now cooperating with officials and has sat down for several interviews, according to senior law enforcement officials. The number of organizations Malik, 29, tried to contact and how she tried to contact them were unclear, but the groups almost certainly included al Qaeda’s Syria-based official affiliate, the Nusrah Front, the sources said. Mr Comey did not indicate whether the FBI investigation had established a substantial link between the couple and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) armed group.

Officials investigating the California shooting believe Farook and Malik were planning an 2012 attack in the Los Angeles area, but ultimately decided against it. Investigators are also looking at whether the husband accused in the shootings was planning an attack in 2012 but abandoned those plans, according to two people familiar with the investigation who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Mr Comey said it would be “very, very important to know” if their marriage had been arranged by a militant group as a way to carry out attacks in the US, although he said there was no evidence yet indicating that. In response to a question from Republican senator Lindsay Graham, Mr Comey acknowledged that evidence of Islamic extremists playing such a role in their marriage would be “a game changer”. Both Marquez and the bride, Russian-born Mariya Chernykh, list the same home address as Raheel Farook, and Raheel and Tatiana Farook were witnesses to the couple’s marriage.

In the aftermath of the attacks, American Muslims have told The Independent of an apparent surge in alleged Islamophobic hate crimes, including the brutal beating Saturday of a New York City store owner. Mr Comey praised the American Muslims who inform the FBI on suspicious behavior and asked that they come forward if they witness or suspect a hate crime so that it can be properly investigated.

The husband-and-wife duo “were radicalized for quite a long time before their attack,” Comey reiterated during an appearance on Capitol Hill in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. A law enforcement source said investigators are focusing on how Malik obtained the K-1 fiancée visa that the United States issued so she could come to the country with Farook. The comment provoked international criticism, but on Thursday, a CBS-New York Times poll showed Mr Trump with 13 more per cent in the polls since October — giving him an all time high of 35 per cent of voting Republicans polled.

I am in such pain that I cannot even describe it.” The father, Gulzar Ahmed Malik, has been a resident in the kingdom since the early 1980s, the Saudi Interior Ministry says. Azmi Hasan, the mosque’s facilities manager, said he believed Marquez had converted to Islam, but insisted that he was not a member of the Islamic Society, and had only worshipped at the mosque three or four times in the last seven years. Investigators have been looking into the relationship between Farook, who was killed with his wife in a shootout with police a few hours after their assault, and Enrique Marquez, a boyhood friend.

Relatively little is known about Malik, who was born in Pakistan but spent at least some time in Saudi Arabia, where her father relocated more than two decades ago. Risch said Marquez and Farook “were plotting an actual attack” that year, including purchasing weapons, but became apprehensive and shelved the plan because of law enforcement activity and arrests in the area. Though Comey declined to answer questions about whether encrypted communication had been used before the attack, he did use the appearance to reiterate his longstanding concerns that criminals, terrorists and spies can use encryption applications on their smartphones to evade detection from law enforcement.

He said one of the gunmen in last May’s shooting outside a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, had exchanged more than 100 messages with an overseas suspected terrorist prior to the attack that investigators still had been unable to access. The two gunmen were shot dead by police. “We have no idea what he said because those messages were encrypted,” Comey said. “And to this day, I can’t tell you what he said with that terrorist 109 times the morning of that attack. We have to grapple with it.” America’s counterterrorism infrastructure has had success flagging individuals who try to travel abroad to fight alongside militants, fund operations overseas or who communicate online with overseas terrorists.

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