Wednesday 23 Dec 2015
San Bernardino shooter Tashfeen Malik denied ever receiving weapons training or engaging in 'terrorist activity' on her US permanent residence application.
San Bernardino shooters Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik first met in person and became engaged during the 2013 Haj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, according to a statement Farook made as part of Malik's official US visa application.
In a separate part of Malik's immigration file, provided to Reuters news agency by congressional sources, Malik answered "no" to questions about her background and activities, including whether she had ever received weapons training or engaged in "terrorist activity".
The questions were included as part of a US permanent residence application, Form I-485 used by the Department of Homeland Security's immigration unit.
Friday 11 Dec 2015
Islamic militant groups ignored contact attempts from Pakistan-born Tashfeen Malik in the months before she and her husband killed 14 people at a California holiday party probably because they feared getting caught in a US law enforcement sting, government sources say.
The number of organisations 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 on Thursday.
One source said the government currently has little, if any, evidence that Malik or her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, had any direct contact with Islamic State, which has captured control of large parts of Syria and Iraq.
Islamic State said last week the couple were among its followers.
The militant groups likely ignored Malik's approaches because they have become extremely wary of responding to outsiders they do not know or who have not been introduced to them, the sources said.
The December 2 shooting massacre by Farook, the US-born son of Pakistani immigrants, and Malik, 29, a Pakistani native he married in Saudi Arabia last year, has heightened security concerns in the United States and has become an issue in the US presidential campaign.
The FBI said last week that Malik posted a pledge of allegiance to Islamic State on Facebook just before the shooting rampage.
FBI Director James Comey, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and John Mulligan, deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center, planned to brief members of both houses of the US Congress on Thursday about the investigation of Farook and Malik in closed, classified sessions.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is trying to determine the couple's motivation for opening fire with assault-style rifles at a holiday party for Farook's San Bernardino County government co-workers.
Twenty-one people were also wounded in the attack.
Authorities say Farook and Malik embraced radical Islam before they met online in 2013 and married last year.
A law enforcement source said investigators are focusing on how Malik obtained the K-1 fiance visa that the United States issued so she could come to the country with Farook.
The K-1 program is now under scrutiny by an interagency committee that includes the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security.
Thursday 10 Dec 2015
The couple who massacred 14 people at a California holiday party were discussing martyrdom online before they met in person and married last year, FBI Director James Comey says.
Comey, testifying at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Wednesday said there was no evidence yet that the marriage of Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, who was born in the United States to Pakistani immigrants, and Tashfeen Malik, 29, who was born in Pakistan and lived most of her life in Saudi Arabia, was arranged by a militant group.
"They were actually radicalised before they started ... dating each other online, and as early as the end of 2013 they were talking to each other about jihad and martyrdom before they became engaged," Comey said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation believes that the couple, who were killed in a shootout with police a few hours after their attack on the party, were inspired by foreign terrorist organisations. Comey said it would be "very, very important to know" if their marriage last year had been arranged as a way to carry out attacks in the United States.
The investigation of the San Bernardino, California, shooting is also looking at the relationship between Farook and boyhood friend Enrique Marquez.
The New York Times has reported that Marquez had converted to Islam a few years ago and state documents showed that he was connected to Farook's family by marriage.
Police have said Marquez legally bought the AR-15 assault-style rifles that Farook and Malik used in their attack on the party, which also left 21 people wounded.
Marquez, who worked at a Walmart Supercenter in Corona, California, has not been arrested in the case but he was questioned by the FBI on Tuesday and his family home was raided over the weekend.
Marquez checked himself into a Los Angeles-area psychiatric facility soon after the shooting.
State documents showed that last year Marquez married Mariya Chernykh, whose sister is married to Farook's brother, Syed Raheel Farook, a US Navy veteran.
It could not be immediately determined if Marquez lived with his wife. The New York Times reported that he split his time between his family's home and that of a girlfriend.
Tuesday 8 Dec 2015
A deposit of $28,500 was made to Syed Farook's bank account on November 18, some two weeks before he and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, went on a shooting rampage in San Bernardino, California, Fox News reported on Monday, citing a source close to the investigation.
Investigators were trying to determine whether the transaction, made from Utah-based WebBank.com, was a loan, Fox News said, citing the source.
Farook and Malik killed 14 people and wounded 21 others when they started shooting at a holiday lunch event on December 2.
On or around Nov. 20, Farook withdrew $10,000 of the money in cash and deposited it at a Union Bank branch in San Bernardino, according to the Fox News source, who also told the cable news network that in the days before the shooting, there were at least three transfers of $5000 each that appeared to be to Farook's mother.
Fox News quoted the source as saying the transactions appeared to represent a "significant source of pre-meditation".
FBI says California shooters were radicalised for 'some time'
Investigators believe the married couple who massacred 14 people in California last week - the U.S.-born husband and his Pakistani wife - had been radicalized "for quite some time," but no clues pointing to an international plot have yet emerged, the FBI said on Monday.
Authorities also have evidence that Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his spouse, Tashfeen Malik, 29, had engaged in firearms target practice near their Southern California home within days of last week's deadly shooting rampage, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The latest disclosures in the FBI-led investigation came as San Bernardino County employees began returning to work under tighter security, five days after Farook, an environmental health inspector for the county, and his spouse opened fire with assault-style rifles on a holiday gathering of his colleagues.
The couple were killed in a shootout with police several hours after their attack on Wednesday morning in a conference room at the Inland Regional Center social services agency in San Bernardino, about 60 miles (100 km) east of Los Angeles.
The FBI said last week that authorities are investigating the mass shooting as an "act of terrorism," noting that Malik, a Pakistani native who lived most of her life in Saudi Arabia, was believed to have pledged allegiance on Facebook to the leader of the militant group Islamic State.
If the mass shooting - the deadliest burst of U.S. gun violence in three years - proves to have been the work of people inspired by Islamic militants, it would mark the most lethal such attack in the United Sates since Sept. 11, 2001.
In addition to five firearms recovered by investigators, authorities also have seized thousands of rounds of ammunition amassed by the couple, along with explosives and other materials for making as many as 19 pipe bombs, the FBI said.
Mounting signs that extremist ideology played some role in Wednesday's attack continued to reverberate in the campaign for the November 2016 U.S. presidential election.
A day after Democratic President Barack Obama urged Americans in a televised White House address to avoid scape-goating of Islam as a religion, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.
Both suspects believed radicalised 'for some time'
Questions have been raised about the extent to which Farook, who was born in Illinois to Pakistani immigrant parents and grew up in Southern California, might have been introduced to extremism by Malik, whom he married in Saudi Arabia in the summer of 2014 and then returned with to the United States.
"The answer is we still do not know," said David Bowdich, assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Los Angeles office. But, he added, "We have learned and believe that both subjects were radicalised and had been for quite some time."
Malik's transformation began before she came to the United States, according to the FBI. But Bowdich said it remained be seen whether the husband and wife were indoctrinated by other individuals or whether they turned to extremist ideology on their own.
Two U.S. government sources familiar with the case said on Monday that investigators had uncovered electronic communications indicating that the couple had at least tried to contact militants abroad, but those communications were believed to have been part of a self-radicalisation process.
One source told Reuters the probe was focusing closely on contacts the shooters may have had with radical Islamists in the United States, rather than oversees.
Addressing that aspect of the probe in a news conference on Monday, Bowdich said. "I want to be crystal clear here. We do not see any evidence so far of ... an outside-the-continental-U.S. plot. We may find it some day, we may not. We don't know."
While the couple may have been inspired by Islamic State, U.S. government sources last week said there was no evidence their attack was directed by the militant group, or that the organisation even knew who they were.
FBI Director James Comey said on Friday that no information had been uncovered suggesting the killers were part of an extremist cell or network.
Bowdich said on Monday the FBI was working with its foreign counterparts to expand its investigation.
To date, he said authorities have conducted well over 400 interviews in Southern California and collected more than 320 individual pieces of evidence.
Suspect's mother still being questioned
The FBI, he said, was continuing to seek a motive for the attack. Agents believe the couple had been planning more violence because of their cache of ammunition and explosives found in a bomb-making workshop in the suspects' home.
One individual still being questioned was Farook's mother, who shared the couple's rented home in the town of Redlands, and in whose care the suspects left their 6-month-old daughter the morning of the shooting. Officials have said the infant has since been placed in protective custody.
John D'Angelo, a special agent for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, confirmed that the two rifles used in the attack were purchased by an individual named Enrique Marquez, a friend of Farook. But investigators were still trying to pin down how the two weapons were transferred to the shooters.
The two handguns and a .22-caliber rifle recovered by investigators were bought by Farook himself. D'Angelo said all five guns were legally purchased by licensed gun dealers in California.
The mass shooting and its possible connections to Islamic militants quickly found its way into presidential politics, with several candidates for the 2016 Republican nomination accusing Obama of hesitancy in linking Wednesday's bloodshed in California to international terrorism.
In a televised address from the Oval Office on Sunday night, Obama condemned the attack as "an act of terrorism designed to kill innocent people" while cautioning against fear-mongering against the Muslim community and overreaction to the militantthreat at home.
On Monday, Trump called for a blanket halt to immigration of Muslim individuals to the United States. "Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad," he said.
Friday 4 Dec 2015
A vigil has been held in California for the victims of yesterday's mass shooting in San Bernadino.
Fourteem people were shot dead when a married couple opened fire at a work function.
It's believed one of the shooters may have been radicalised, although investigators have not ruled out a workplace dispute.
Thousands of rounds of ammunition and at least a dozen bombs been found at the home of Sayed Farook and his wife Tasheen Malik.