San Bernardino shooters radicalized long ago and discussed jihad and martyrdom

San Bernardino shooters radicalized long ago and discussed jihad and martyrdom

Female shooter entered the U.S. on a "fiancee visa," lying on her visa application in order to successfully pass through the screening process.

The suspects in the San Bernardino shooting last week that killed 14 and injured 21 more were radicalized long ago, and discussed jihad and martyrdom as early as 2013, according to the FBI. Syed Farook, a U.S. citizen, and his bride, Pakistani-born Tashfeen Malik, met online in 2013, and the FBI reports they soon discussed violence, even before developing a cyber-romance relationship.

FBI Director James Comey said that the couple were “homegrown violent extremists,” inspired by terrorist groups that are even older than ISIS, which rose to it’s current level of prominence in 2014. The FBI did not identify these groups.

Malik entered the U.S. in 2014 on a K-1 visa, a 90-day authorization known as a “fiancee visa,” issued to foreigners who plan to marry Americans. She was apparently able to successfully pass through the screening process by lying on her visa application. The review of her paperwork did not pick up the false Pakistani address she listed on her application, or signs that she was radicalized.

Both Malik and Farook posted a message stating that “We pledge allegiance” to Abu Bakr al-Bahgdadi, the Islamic State leader, on social media prior to the attack.  The wife of one of the people killed in the terrorist attack, said she believes her husband, Nicholas Thalasinos, who was a Messianic Jew, was killed because of his faith. He and co-worker Farook had had work discussions about Israel and religious issues. She said it was clear to her husband that Farook was a “very devout Muslim.”

Farook’s parents have now been placed on a federal terrorist watch list. Farook’s father, also named Syed Farook, has insisted that he had no knowledge of his son’s plan. His mother, Rafia Farook, also said she knew nothing about either the plan or the stockpile of weapons found in the home she shared with the shooters.

The father has been watch-listed because of the frequent trips he makes to Pakistan. The mother was also added to the list after authorities found what they call “suspicious items” in her car. The items included the packaging from a GoPro camera and shooting targets.

It is not known at this time whether the couple’s marriage was arranged by any sort of terrorist group. Comey said that the FBI is “working very hard” to determine whether anyone else was involved in the shooting. They are also attempting to determine whether the couple had any other plans,  as a large cache of explosives, weapons and ammunition was found in their Redlands, Calif., townhouse.