Po­ten­tial terror probe widens in San Bernardino shoot­ing

The Star (St. Lucia) - - INTERNATIONAL -

ABC News: The FBI is ex­am­in­ing links be­tween one of the San Bernardino shoot­ers and at least two spe­cific in­di­vid­u­als in the U.S. who may have been in­volved in the rad­i­cal­iza­tion of the shooter or even the plan­ning of the at­tack, fed­eral of­fi­cials told ABC News, though no de­fin­i­tive mo­tive for Wed­nes­day’s mas­sacre has been iden­ti­fied.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors are also por­ing over 28-year-old Syed Rizwan Fa­rook’s for­eign travel, in­clud­ing a trip in 2014 to Saudi Ara­bia where he ap­par­ently met and re­turned home with his fu­ture wife and killer ac­com­plice, Pak­istani pass­port-holder Tash­feen Ma­lik.

Overnight, as po­lice re­leased new im­ages from the gun bat­tle that claimed Fa­rook and Ma­lik’s lives hours af­ter the at­tack on San Bernardino’s In­land Re­gional Cen­ter, a lo­cal as­sis­tant imam took to Face­book, claim­ing he had been ac­costed and ques­tioned by the FBI at gun­point.

“The news of the shoot­ing was shock­ing, un­be­liev­able, un­fath­omable, left us all speech­less,” the cleric, Rashon Ab­bassi, told ABC News late Thurs­day. “And it is an act we con­demn as Mus­lims.”

Four­teen peo­ple were killed and more than 20 oth­ers in­jured when Fa­rook and Ma­lik opened fire at a gath­er­ing of San Bernardino County employees Wed­nes­day. Fa­rook, who had worked for the county for five years in the health depart­ment, had at­tended the meet­ing be­fore mys­te­ri­ously dis­ap­pear­ing. Wit­nesses and au­thor­i­ties say he and Ma­lik re­turned half an hour later with two as­sault-style weapons, two hand­guns and “tac­ti­cal” cloth­ing along with hun­dreds of rounds of am­mu­ni­tion.

Af­ter the couple was killed by po­lice four hours later but less than two miles from the ini­tial at­tack, po­lice found even more am­mu­ni­tion along with a dozen home­made ex­plo­sive de­vices, sim­i­lar to ones de­scribed in an early al Qaeda in­struc­tional mag­a­zine ar­ti­cle. San Bernardino Po­lice Chief Jar­rod Bur­guan told re­porters on Thurs­day the na­ture of the at­tack led in­ves­ti­ga­tors to be­lieve it in­volved sig­nif­i­cant pre-plan­ning.

“No­body just gets up­set at a party, goes home and puts to­gether that kind of elab­o­rate scheme or plan,” he said. “There was some plan­ning that went into this.”

Still, au­thor­i­ties have re­peat­edly de­clined to de­scribe the at­tack as ter­ror­ism and said that a mo­tive has not re­vealed it­self. Late Thurs­day sources told ABC News that in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve that over sev­eral years Fa­rook had been in some sort of con­tact with sev­eral peo­ple who were on the FBI’s radar for po­ten­tial ter­ror­ism con­cerns, but they were, as one source said, “no sig­nif­i­cant FBI tar­gets.”

No note of ex­pla­na­tion has been found and those close to Fa­rook were left dumb­founded. “I have no idea . . . why he would do some­thing like this,” Fa­rook’s vis­i­bly shocked brother-in-law Farhan Khan told re­porters hours af­ter the at­tack on Wed­nes­day. “I just can­not ex­press how sad I am for what hap­pened to­day.”

Khan later told NBC News he did not be­lieve the at­tack was con­nected to Fa­rook’s Mus­lim faith, and de­scribed his brother-in-law as sim­ply a “bad per­son.”

While in­for­ma­tion about Ma­lik re­mains for the most part elu­sive, pub­lic records and pro­files on Mus­lim-ori­ented dat­ing web­sites set up by Fa­rook and his par­ents years ago have pro­vided some win­dow into the young man’s life be­fore he turned to hor­rific violence.

In one pro­file, Fa­rook de­scribes him­self as a “health, safety and en­vi­ron­men­tal in­spec­tor,” says he’s 6’0” tall and doesn’t drink or smoke. At that time the pro­file was made about six years ago, Fa­rook claimed he was part of a “re­li­gious but mod­ern fam­ily of 4” [sic] and that he en­joyed “do­ing tar­get prac­tice with younger sis­ter and friends” in his back yard. He says he was born in Chicago, but in an­other pro­file in­di­cated a Pak­istani her­itage.

An­other pro­file por­trayed a man try­ing to bal­ance his faith and mod­ern life.

“I try to live as a good Mus­lim,” Fa­rook wrote.

“Look­ing for a girl who has the same out­look, wear hi­jab, but live the life to the fullest.”

On the same page, Fa­rook, who grad­u­ated in 2010 from Cal State San Bernardino, preaches his love of snow­board­ing, camp­ing, and work­ing on cars, and fur­ther de­scribes his per­son­al­ity as cau­tious, re­served, skep­ti­cal and very lib­eral.

A mar­riage li­cense shows Fa­rook and Ma­lik were wed last Au­gust, af­ter Ma­lik was al­lowed in the coun­try on a “fi­ancée” visa be­fore get­ting her Green Card. Six months ago the couple had a baby girl. Au­thor­i­ties say the baby was left with a rel­a­tive on the day of the shoot­ing.

Mustafa Kuko, an­other lo­cal re­li­gious leader who is the Di­rec­tor of the Is­lamic Cen­ter in Riverdale, Calif., where Fa­rook wor­shiped un­til Jan­uary 2014, said he was “with­drawn a bit” and didn’t “mix with peo­ple eas­ily.”

There was never any sign of vi­o­lent thoughts, Kuko said. “We talked about gen­eral is­sues when­ever he talked to me,” he said.

Syed Rizwan Fa­rook, one of the shoot­ers who at­tacked the San Ber­nadino In­land Re­gional Cen­ter

where 14 peo­ple were killed.

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