San Bernardino shooter apparently radicalized, in touch with terrorism subjects

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UPDATE: San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook was in touch over the phone and via social media with more than one international terrorism subject who the FBI were already investigating, law enforcement officials said.

It appears that Farook was radicalized, which contributed to his motive, though other things — like workplace grievances — may have also played a role, other law enforcement sources said.

Farook traveled to Saudi Arabia in 2013 for the Hajj for a couple of weeks, two U.S. government officials said.

One of the officials explained that this is a common occurrence and the trip would not have raised any red flags, because many Americans travel to Saudi Arabia during that time.

The U.S. government believes Farook met Tashfeen Malik during that trip, and Malik eventually came to the United States on a “fiancee visa,” the official said.

Malik, who was born in Pakistan, then obtained a green card, becoming a lawful permanent resident, the official said.

Given the amount of ammunition and bombs the pair had, many asked if they may have been planning something different but instead impulsively carried out Wednesday’s shooting.

“If you look at the amount of obvious pre-planning that went in, the amount of armaments (they) had, the weapons and the ammunition, there was obviously a mission here,” David Bowdich, assistant director for the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, said. “We know that. We do not know why. We don’t know if this was the intended target or if there was something that triggered him to do this immediately. We just don’t know. Again, that’s going to take time for us to get to that answer.”

While police say they know who massacred 14 people Wednesday at a holiday party in San Bernardino, California, the killers’ exact motives remain a mystery.

Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik committed the deadliest U.S. mass shooting since Sandy Hook in December 2012 before being killed by police, authorities say.

Here is what we know about them:

Husband and wife

Farook, 28, and Malik, 27, had been married for two years, according to Hussam Ayloush, head of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group.

The couple left their 6-month-old girl with Farook’s grandmother Wednesday and said they had a doctor’s appointment.

The grandmother became concerned when she saw reports of the shooting and couldn’t reach Farook.

Farook was environmental health specialist for county

Farook, an American citizen, was an environmental health specialist with the San Bernardino County health department, which was hosting the holiday party at the Inland Regional Center where the attack took place.

He had been there five years. Records list a man with his name and title who worked at the agency and made $53,000 in 2013.

He graduated from California State University, San Bernardino, with a degree in environmental health in 2009.

Police don’t have a motive

Farook was at the party but left abruptly before the shooting. He seemed angry, witnesses told police. He returned. And, along with Malik, he went into the building and began firing, authorities said.

There are no indications his job was in jeopardy, police said. They’re also unaware of any criminal history.

Farhan Khan, Farook’s brother-in-law, told reporters he was at a loss, too.

“I have no idea why he would he do something like this. I have absolutely no idea. I am in shock myself,” Khan said.

He said the family, like the rest of America, will have to wait for the police investigation for answers.

Farook and Malik didn’t appear to have left behind a note, a law enforcement official said.

He kept a low profile

Those who worked with Farook described him as quiet.

“I would say hi and bye. But we never engaged him in conversation. He didn’t say much at all,” said Griselda Reisinger, a former co-worker, told the Los Angeles Times.

Maria Gutierrez, who knew Farook, used the same word to describe him to the New York Daily News.

“He was quiet but always polite,” she said.

He met his wife online

Co-worker Patrick Baccari told the Los Angeles Times that Farook recently visited Saudi Arabia to meet a woman he met online. They returned as husband and wife.

Farook had a profile set up on, which describes itself as “a site for people with disabilities and second marriage.”

The profile said he “enjoys working on vintage and modern cars, reads religious books, enjoys eating out sometimes.”

“Enjoys travelling and just hanging out in the back yard doing target practice with his younger sister and friends.”


He said he was from a secular family

In the same profile, Farook said he came from a Muslim family with “Eastern and Western” family values.

There’s no indication when the profile was set up. But his father told the New York Daily News that Farook was very religious.

“He would go to work, come back, go to pray, come back,” he said.

He and his brother share the same name

It’s important to note Farook’s middle name — Rizwan. Because his older brother is also named Syed Farook but has a different middle name.

Farook and Malik ‘came prepared’

The attackers were “dressed in dark, kind of tactical gear,” San Bernardino police Chief Jarrod Burguan said. They carried rifles and semi-automatic handguns.

Two handguns recovered have been traced back to Farook. He purchased them legally three or four years ago, an official said. Two rifles were purchased by someone else, possibly a former roommate, also legally three or four years ago. Officials said they don’t think that person had anything to do with the shooting.

“These were people that came prepared,” Burguan said. “There had to have been some degree of planning that went into this.”

They intended to inflict more damage

A bag believed to belong to the shooters was found inside the conference room. Inside, investigators found three rudimentary explosive devices packed with black powder and rigged to a remote controlled car. The remote for the car was found inside the SUV where Farook and Malik were later killed, a law enforcement official said.

The pair planned to use the remote to detonate the explosives from a distance, the official said. Either it didn’t work because of distance or they didn’t do it. Officials later rendered the explosive devices safe.

They died in a hail of bullets

After carrying out the attack at Inland Regional — where they killed 14 people and injured at least 17 — Farook and Malik led police on a chase. Farook fired at officers while Malik drove, officials said. They died in the shootout, which involved 21 officers.

CNN’s Evan Perez, Barbara Starr, Pamela Brown, Deborah Feyerick, Michael Martinez, Greg Botelho, Joshua Berlinger, Ashley Fantz, Joshua Gaynor, Jason Hanna, John Newsome, Stella Chan, Nadia Kounang, Steve Almasy, Kyung Lah, Alberto Moya, Catherine E. Shoichet, Andy Rose, Tina Burnside, Dave Alsup, Artemis Mostaghian and David Shortell contributed to this report.


  • bob

    A MOTIVE??? What are you, six years old? We all know what the motive was, imbeciles.

    They were Muslim terrorists on a jihad.

    Let’s hurry and confiscate the guns of law-abiding white Christians so this doesn’t happen again. Because we’re smart like that.

    • Andrew Wernick (@oaklycon)

      Yes… White christian like yourself knows all. I bet your praying to your “god” for all to be well.

      Just because they are Muslim doesn’t make them extremists. At this point, no one knows if religion had anything to do with it. So stop making stupid judgements based off religion.

      Oh, And i’m sure only “white christians” are law abiding and own guns.
      Go pray to your silly “god” and stop accusing muslims of all being bad.

      • Just Bob

        no it doesn’t, but the the fact they are muslim and shot the place up does make them extremists.. stop trying to sugar coat it, this was a terrorist attack on American soil


        No Andrew, just because they are Muslim doesn’t make them extremists. Murdering innocent people is what makes them Muslim Terrorists. Get a grip on reality Andrew.


        Listen up dipwad (aka Andrew Wernick)
        Bob didn’t accuse ALL Muslims of being being bad now did he? Obama and the rest of you liberals may not want to call them what they are but they meet the definition of Muslim terrorists.

      • Apologist JD

        Everyone needs to back a half step up and wait for more information. While I have strong suspicions that this was terrorism, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions. Don’t make this another BLM moment where you’re so anxious to have it fit the narrative that you make a fool of yourself when the facts turn another direction. The BLM crew jumped at every opportunity to support their own narrative and made fools of themselves with Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, etc., etc., etc. Don’t fall in the same trap!

      • LJ

        That is defined as Deflection. You are throwing out non-issues to pull the topic away from the statement. But that’s for showing the world you are completely clueless and doing more to rationalize the behavior, since they aren’t “Christians”. It’s fools like you, that have blinded yourself to the true cause of all of these murders and have done more to facilitate it.

      • bob

        France lost more than 100 more people to mass shootings, last year, than the United States. In fact, there are several industrialized nations with a higher death rate from mass shootings than the U.S., and they all have strict gun control.

  • Chris

    Muslims and Muslim extremists are two different groups. We need to keep that in mind when we talk on the subject to be clear in what we are talking about. People from any religion can and have been converted to Muslim extremist views. Any attack on innocent people is considered a terrorist attack. We just don’t know at this point if these men where extremists acting out or if they were just extremely evil men.


      Yes Chris, Obama is very politically correc when he skirts around the people commiting these terrorist groups. Its a lot easer for him to attack the 2nd Amendment rights of decent Americans.

    • bob

      Muslims suddenly become Muslim Extremists when they kill people. That is the ONLY difference.

      Those two were someone’s “nice Muslim neighbors” until yesterday.

      WE ARE AT WAR WITH ISLAM. They’ve known it for well over a thousand years. We used to know it, when they were hammering at the gates of Vienna, and conquered most of Spain, but somehow we’ve fallen asleep.

  • Richard

    Christmas party. Radical Islamist. Multiple ied’s strapped to remote control cars. Just returned from Suadi Arabia where he “brought” home a wife. In contact with multiple international terrorists…nothing to see here. Just workplace violence. Common place in America.

    What world are the media and President living in!?! Let’s all say it together. Radical Islamists are among us and our inept president goes for OUR guns, our only defense against this terror since our government is not taking it seriously by plan or just ineptness.

    Let’s vote for Hillary now! Obama part Deux with nicer pant suits.

  • Richard

    Watch Andrew Wernick mock Christians and their “God” all the while defending Islam. He’s super bright guys. He prays to the Star Wars god of N3rds in case anyone wants to mock his religion.

  • Desconocido

    Racism is strong in this article. Where were you all when the white Christian man shot up Planned Parenthood? Or the majority of the other white Christian males who are mass shooters?You’re not blaming their actions on “Christian extremism” and labeling Christianity a religion of terror. No, they are all “troubled individuals” or “mentally unstable loners”.


      This has nothing to do with racism sweetheart. Even our king, Mr. Obama didn’t try playing the race card.

    • Victoria

      Actually, I blame Christian extremists for their acts of terror, too. I don’t like extremists of any stripe. They all use religion to justify their horrible acts, and the families always defend them (how many times have we heard, “but he/she went to church every Sunday”, as if this somehow absolves them?). The fact that some people use Christianity to support their terrorist views and actions does not “cancel out” the fact that Muslim extremists do that, too.

      These folks were Muslim extremists, and there’s every indication that the family knew what they were up to. Read the father’s interview in today’s La Stampa, an Italian news site. Such a genius – I guess he didn’t think anyone would read it, translate it, then tell Americans about it. In it, he admits that his son was “fascinated by ISIS”. Our own govt states there was contact with terrorists. So stop deflecting and focus on the real issue, which is what are we to do about domestic terrorism??

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