San Bernardino Now Investigated as an “Act of Terrorism”
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — The latest on the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.
An IS-affiliated news agency Aamaq says the two shooters in the deadly California attack were "supporters" of the Islamic State group, but it stopped short of claiming responsibility for the attack.
David Bowdich, assistant director of the FBI's Los Angeles office, said he wasn't aware of the report but wasn't surprised IS would attempt to link itself to the attack. He said investigators are looking carefully to determine if there is an IS connection.
Bowdich said at a news conference that the bureau is investigating the shooting that left 14 people dead as an act of terrorism. He says neither Syed Farook nor his wife, Tashfeen Malik, was under prior investigation.
The couple opened fire at a holiday banquet for Farook's co-workers before dying in a gunbattle with police Wednesday.
He also said the shooters attempted to destroy evidence, including crushing two cellphones and discarding them in a trash can. He said authorities continue to investigate the case to understand the motivations of the shooters and whether they were planning more attacks.
The woman who helped her husband kill 14 people at holiday party in California praised the leader of the Islamic State group in a Facebook post just minutes into the attack.
A Facebook executive told The Associated Press that Tashfeen Malik posted the material under an alias account at 11 a.m. Wednesday. That was about the time the first 911 calls came in and when the couple were believed to have stormed into the San Bernardino social service center and opened fire.
The executive spoke on condition of anonymity because this person was not allowed under corporate policy to be quoted by name.
The company discovered the Facebook account Thursday. It removed the profile from public view and reported its contents to law enforcement.
Pakistani intelligence officials say Tashfeen Malik, one of the shooters in the California massacre, moved as a child with her family to Saudi Arabia 25 years ago.
The two officials say the family is originally from the Pakistani town of Karor Lal Esan, about 200 miles southwest of the capital of Islamabad in Punjab province. The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to talk to the press.
Her father, Gulzar Malik, moved to Saudi Arabia about three decades ago for work. The officials say his family — including Tashfeen Malik, then only a few years old — joined him there 25 years ago and have lived there since.
An expert says the revelation that one of the California attackers pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group on Facebook suggests the woman was inspired by IS ideology but wasn't necessarily in direct touch with the group.
John Cohen, a former counterterrorism coordinator for the Homeland Security Department and a Rutgers University professor, said those people are harder to detect.
He says the counterterrorism infrastructure is built on preventing tightly organized attacks directed by a specific group, not detecting people inspired by IS but operating independently. He says that means different tools are needed to prevent those types of attacks.
Cohen says IS has aggressively used social media and have "successfully inspired thousands of people."
Tashfeen Malik helped her husband, Syed Farook, kill 14 people at a holiday banquet for his county co-workers before dying in a gunbattle with police.