San Bernardino attacker pledged allegiance to IS leader on Facebook

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Dec 04, 2015 21:48 IST
Police officers conduct a manhunt after the shooting rampage in San Bernardino, California. (Reuters File Photo)

One of the two people accused of killing 14 at a party in California had pledged allegiance to an Islamic State leader, US government sources said on Friday.

Tashfeen Malik, 27, and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, were killed in a shootout with police hours after the Wednesday massacre at the Inland Regional Center social services agency in San Bernardino, about 100km from Los Angeles. The attack was the deadliest mass shooting the United States has experienced in three years.

She posted her pledge on Facebook under an assumed name, CNN said, citing US investigators. Malik uploaded the post while the attack was underway, CNN reported, citing three people familiar with the investigation. The network was also told that the shoot-out seemed like a case of self-radicalisation.

Investigators have been going through computers and electronic devices belonging to the couple, and found evidence that they tried to delete or destroy evidence before the attacks.

Investigators have also found evidence that Farook himself was in touch with terror suspects in the US and abroad being monitored by authorities some years ago.

Farook, a public health inspector, and Malik were killed in a gun battle with police hours after they gunned down 14 people at his office’s Christmas party in San Bernardino Wednesday.

Investigators found a massive arsenal of weapons and bombs at his home, which was just miles from the scene of the shooting, which was taken as a sign that he had been planning an attack.

However, neither he nor his wife were on any terror watch-list. Farook had communicated with extremists in the US and abroad a few years ago, but not recently, according to congressional officials cited by The New York Times.

They said Farook had contacted five people whom the FBI had investigated for possible terrorist activities — including one associated with Al Shabaab, the Islamist militant movement in Somalia, and another associated with the al-Nusra Front in Syria.

No charges were filed, and all five cases were closed.

Farook was born in the US, but his family came from Pakistan. He met Malik online and married her two years ago. Malik, who held a Pakistani passport, came to the US in July 2014 on K-1 (fiancee) visa. US authorities are in touch with Pakistan to find out more about her, NBC news said.

They had a six-month-old daughter, who they left with Farook’s mother, telling her they were going to see a doctor. The next she heard about them was from the police.

While Farook was a devout Muslim, and went to a local mosque couple of times every week, relatives, acquaintances, neighbors and friends found no signs of his radicalisation.

“I have no idea why he would do something like this,” Farhan Khan, who is married to Farook’s sister, said at a news conference on Wednesday. They last spoke a week ago.

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