San Bernardino shooters Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik first met in person and became engaged during the 2013 Haj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
3 Dec 2015 - 7:54 AM  UPDATED 23 Dec 2015 - 7:06 AM

 

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.

Tashfeen Malik, left, and her husband, Syed Farook, as they passed through O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.
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

David Bowdich, FBI Assistant Director in Charge of the Los Angeles Field Office, speaks to the media about the terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Centre.

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.

Saturday 5 Dec 2015

The FBI is investigating the massacre of 14 people in California by a married couple armed with assault rifles as an "act of terrorism," officials said on Friday, noting the wife was believed to have pledged allegiance to a leader of the militant group Islamic State.

The Los Angeles Times reported, citing a federal law enforcement official, that the husband had contact with people from at least two militant organizations overseas, including the al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front in Syria.

Both the U.S.-born husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his spouse, Tashfeen Malik, 29, a native of Pakistan who lived in Saudi Arabia for more than 20 years, died in a shootout with police hours after Wednesday's attack on a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center social services agency in San Bernardino, about 60 miles (100 km) east of Los Angeles.

Related reading
Who was Tashfeen Malik?
Two years ago, Tashfeen Malik was a new bride radiating happiness at a reception for hundreds at a California mosque to celebrate her marriage to Syed Rizwan Farook.

If the mass shooting proves to have been the work of people inspired by Islamist militants, as investigators now suspect, it would mark the deadliest such attack in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001.

Federal Bureau of Investigation officials said mounting signs of advanced preparations, the large cache of armaments amassed by the couple and evidence that they "attempted to destroy their digital fingerprints" helped tip the balance of the investigation.

"Based on the information and the facts as we know them, we are now investigating these horrific acts as an act of terrorism," David Bowdich, assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Los Angeles office, said at a news conference.

He pointed, in particular, to investigators' discovery of two crushed cell phones left by the couple in a trash can near their rented townhouse.

Bowdich said the FBI hoped examination of data retrieved from the phones and other electronic devices seized in the investigation would lead to a motive for the attack.

The couple had two assault-style rifles, two semi-automatic handguns, 6,100 rounds of ammunition and 12 pipe bombs in their home or with them when they were killed, officials said. And Bowdich said they may have been planning an additional attack.

Pledge of allallegiance

One startling disclosure came from social media network Facebook, which confirmed that comments praising Islamic State were posted around the time of the mass shooting to a Facebook account established under an alias by Malik. However, it was uncertain whether the comments were posted by Malik herself or someone with access to her page.

A Facebook Inc spokesman said the profile in question was removed by the company on Thursday for violating its community standards barring promotion or praise for "acts of terror." He declined to elaborate on the material.

But CNN and other news media outlets reported that Malik's Facebook posts included a pledge of allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Asked about a reported Facebook post by Malik on the day of the attack pledging loyalty to Islamic State, Bowdich said, "I know it was in a general timeline where that post was made, and yes, there was a pledge of allegiance."

While Malik and her husband may have been inspired by Islamic State, there was no evidence the attack was directed by the militant group, or that the organization even knew who they were, U.S. government sources said. Islamic State, which has seized large swaths of Syria and Iraq, claimed responsibility for the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris in which gunmen and suicide bombers killed 130 people.

Speaking to reporters separately in Washington, FBI Director James Comey said the investigation pointed to "radicalization of the killers and of potential inspiration by foreign terrorist organizations."

But no evidence has been uncovered yet suggesting the killers were "part of an organized larger group, or form part of a cell," Comey said. "There is no indication that they are part of a network."

Bowdich said neither Farook nor Malik had been under investigation by the FBI or other law enforcement agency prior to Wednesday.

And while federal agents have since discovered contacts between the couple and the subjects of other FBI inquiries, none of those "were of such a significance that it raised these killers up onto our radar screen," Comey said.

The Times gave no additional details for its report that Farook had been in contact with individuals from the Nusra Front and another unspecified militant group abroad.

Family unaware of extremist views

Farook family attorneys, holding a news conference in Los Angeles, denied there was any evidence that either the husband or wife harbored extremist views.

"She was like a typical housewife," lawyer David Chesley said, describing Malik as "caring, soft-spoken" and a devout Muslim who prayed five times a day, chose not to drive and "kept pretty well isolated."

She spoke broken English and her primary language was Urdu, he said, adding, "She was very conservative."

They said Farook, too, largely kept to himself, had few friends and said co-workers sometimes made fun of his beard.

Farook, born in Illinois to Pakistani immigrant parents, worked as an inspector for the San Bernardino County Department of Environment Health, the agency whose holiday party he and Malik are accused of attacking on Wednesday.

Investigators are looking into a report that Farook had an argument with a co-worker who denounced the "inherent dangers of Islam" prior to the shooting, a U.S. government source said.

The couple's landlord in the town of Redlands opened their townhouse to media on Friday, leading to a flurry of reporters and camera crews surveying the scene after the FBI had finished conducting its 24-hour-long search of the premises.

The landlord later asked media to leave the home. The couple and their 6-month-old daughter shared the home with Farook's mother, in whose care they left the child on Wednesday morning, saying they had a doctor's appointment, according to family representatives.

Child welfare authorities have taken custody of the baby, and Farook's relatives were seeking return of the infant, hoping to place her with Farook's older sister, Abuershaid said.

Probe extends to Pakistan

Pakistani intelligence officials have contacted Malik's family in her homeland as part of the investigation, a family member said.

"I only found out about this tragedy today when some intelligence officials contacted me to ask me about my links with Tashfeen," Malik's uncle, Javed Rabbani, said in an interview. "I had heard in the news that this tragedy had taken place but I could never even imagine that it would be someone from my family. Of course, we are in shock."

He said his brother, Malik's father, had become considerably more conservative since moving with his family to Saudi Arabia a quarter century ago.

Tashfeen Malik had not come to the attention of authorities while living in Saudi Arabia, according to a source close to the Saudi government. She had moved back to Pakistan five or six years ago to study pharmacy, Pakistani officials said.

Christian Nwadike, who worked with Farook for five years, told CBS that his co-worker had been different since he returned from Saudi Arabia.

"I think he married a terrorist," Nwadike said.

Twenty-one people were wounded in the attack, the worst gun violence in the nation since the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

The San Bernardino attacks have raised concerns among Muslim-Americans of an anti-Islamic backlash. Two days after the San Bernardino attacks, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed 51 percent of Americans view Muslims living in the United States the same as any other community, while 14.6 percent were generally fearful of Muslims.

Who was Tashfeen Malik?

Two years ago, Tashfeen Malik was a new bride radiating happiness at a reception for hundreds at a California mosque to celebrate her marriage to Syed Rizwan Farook.
On Friday, people attending prayers at the same mosque struggled to reconcile their memories of that happy event with news that Farook, 28, and Malik, 29, killed 14 people in a shooting rampage Wednesday in the city of San Bernardino. Both died in...

Accused San Bernardino shooter Tashfeen Malik moved to Saudi Arabia from Pakistan about 25 years ago but returned home to study to become a pharmacist.

Tashfeen Malik, one of the two accused shooters in the massacre in San Bernardino, California, moved from her native Pakistan to Saudi Arabia with her family 25 years ago before landing in the United States last year with a new American husband.

Malik, 27, and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, the U.S.-born son of Pakistani immigrants, were killed in a shootout with police on Wednesday, hours after the mass shooting in San Bernardino in which 14 people died.

U.S. government sources said Malik apparently had pledged allegiance to a leader of Islamic State, the Islamist militant group that controls large watches of territory in Syria and Iraq and claimed responsibility for the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.

The investigation into the California carnage has spread to Pakistan, where intelligence officials questioned members of Malik's family, including her uncle, Javed Rabbani, the brother of her father, Gulzar. Rabbani said his brother Gulzar changed after moving to Saudi Arabia.

"When relatives visited him, they would come back and tell us how conservative and hard-line he had become," Rabbani said in an interview with Reuters.

The father had built a house in Multan, where he stays when he visits Pakistan, according to another uncle, Malik Anwaar.

Christian Nwadike, who worked with Farook in California for five years, told CBS News that his co-worker had been different since he returned from Saudi Arabia with Malik.

"I think he married a terrorist," Nwadike said.

Two Pakistani officials said Malik was from the Layyah district in southern Punjab province, but moved to Saudi Arabia with her father 25 years ago. She returned home five or six years ago to study to become a pharmacist at Bahauddin Zakariya University in Multan, they said.

Rabbani said he had been contacted by Pakistani intelligence as part of the investigation into the San Bernardino shooting.

The Pakistani officials said Malik had two brothers and two sisters and was related to Ahmed Ali Aulak, a former provincial minister.

U.S. authorities said Malik and Farook had two assault-style rifles, two semi-automatic handguns, 6,100 rounds of ammunition and 12 pipe bombs in their home or with them when they were killed. A U.S. government source said such a cache of weapons indicated they might have intended to carry out a more elaborate attack.

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.