FBI probing ‘$28,500 loan’ in California shooters’ account

  • Reuters, Washington/New York
  • Updated: Dec 09, 2015 11:10 IST
This image obtained from US Customs and Border Protection December 7, 2015 shows Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, as they were going through customs in Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on the evening of July 27, 2014. (AFP)

The married couple accused of killing 14 people at a holiday party in California took a huge loan days before the planned attack knowing that they would not have to repay the debts.

Syed Rizwan Farook recently took out a 28,500 dollar loan from an online lender, a source said on Tuesday.

Authorities have said Farook, 28, and wife Tashfeen Malik, 29, were radicalised Muslims. The FBI has said that the December 2 attack is being investigated as an “act of terrorism.”

While investigations into such attacks often focus on how they were financed, US government officials said the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI’s , examination of the couple’s finances has not linked them with any foreign group.

A source told Reuters that Prosper, a San Francisco-based online lender, made the $28,500 loan to Farook. Prosper evaluates borrowers for loans, which are originated by third-party bank WebBank. Prosper then sells the loans to investors.

One of the Reuters government sources said Farook and Malik apparently pursued a scenario previously followed by US-based militants by draining their bank accounts and taking credit lines to their maximums before embarking on what they believe was a suicide mission, knowing that they would not have to repay the debts.

Fox News first reported on Monday that Farook engaged in transactions involving more than $28,000 and that the money originated with WebBank.com around November 18. It said investigators were trying to determine if the money was a loan taken out by Farook.

WebBank, based in Salt Lake City, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Farook, the US-born son of Pakistani immigrants, and Malik, who was born in Pakistan and spent most of her life in Saudi Arabia, died in a shootout with police several hours after their attack last Wednesday morning at the Inland Regional Center social services agency in San Bernardino, about 60 miles (100 km) east of Los Angeles.

Malik was believed to have pledged allegiance on Facebook book to the leader of the militant group Islamic State around the time of the shooting.

A federal law enforcement official said Enrique Marquez, who has been described as a close friend of Farook, was being interviewed on Tuesday about the weapons used in the attack, including two assault-style rifles he had legally purchased.

Marquez’ home in Riverside was raided by federal agents over the weekend. Federal law enforcement sources told Reuters that Marquez had checked himself into a Los Angeles-area psychiatric facility soon after the shooting.

If the shooting proves to have been the work of people inspired by Islamic militants, it would mark the most lethal such attack in the United States since those by al Qaeda on September 11, 2001.

The San Bernardino killings have made Muslim in America an issue in the US presidential race.

On Sunday President Barack Obama urged Americans not to make Muslims scapegoats for the attack but a day later, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.

“We have no choice but to do this,” Trump told ABC News on Tuesday. He said the ban would be temporary. “We have people that want to blow up our buildings, our cities. We have to figure out what’s going on.”

At a meeting of county supervisors in neighbouring Riverside County on Tuesday, officials paid tribute to the victims, including one who worked for Riverside County.

Read | ‘We are shocked’: Pakistani relatives of female California shooter

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