FBI: San Bernardino attack was an act of terrorism
SAN BERNADINO, Calif. — The FBI confirms the attack that killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California was an act of terror.
“We are not aware of any further threats in the US at this time,” said Assistant Director in Charge of LA David Bowdich.
San Bernardino Sheriff John McMahon said, “I truly believe that we are prepared to deal with whatever threat or incident occurs”
The semi-automatic long guns they used were altered, including at least one that was essentially turned into a fully automatic weapon, a law enforcement official told CNN.
Sources say female shooter Tashfeen Malik posted a pledge of allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Facebook, three U.S. officials familiar with the investigation told CNN.
Malik’s post was made on an account with a different name, one U.S. official said. The officials did not explain how they knew Malik made the post.
A law enforcement official said it appeared that Wednesday’s attack — which left 14 people dead and 21 wounded before the two attackers, Malik and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, were killed in a shootout with police — may have been inspired by ISIS. But none of the officials said that ISIS directed or ordered the attack.
“This is looking more and more like self-radicalization,” a law enforcement official said.
Another official said authorities haven’t ruled out that others may have influenced this radical view. In addition, the law enforcement source said investigators have a greater focus on whether the shooting occurred after a workplace issue with religion.
A lawyer for Farook’s husband has said relatives have no idea why the couple burst into the holiday luncheon for Farook’s co-workers and viciously opened fire. Nor did they have an idea the couple had a makeshift bomb lab in the apartment they shared with their 6-month-old daughter and Farook’s mother. Nor did they know that either of them had become radicalized, as law enforcement officials have said.
“It just doesn’t make sense for these two to be able to act like some kind of Bonnie and Clyde or something,” Farook family attorney David S. Chesley told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “It’s just ridiculous. It doesn’t add up.”
Farook occasionally went alone to shooting ranges, and he bought significant amounts of ammunition. But Chesley and fellow family lawyer Mohammad Abuershaid insisted those aren’t red flags, nor are Farook’s trips to Saudi Arabia — first in 2013 for the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims are required to take at least once in their lifetime, then again to marry Malik, whom he’d met through an online dating service.
Farook and Malik “kept to themselves,” Abuershaid said. But the interactions they did have didn’t hint at any significant changes in their thinking or demeanor, any turn to Islamist extremism, or any sign they were plotting a mass killing, the lawyer said.
“There was nothing to show that (Malik) was extreme at all,” Abuershaid said. “(And Farook) was a normal guy, in every sense of the word.”
It’s not that the family denies the couple carried out this massacre. They are shocked by it. And they’re also “very remorseful and they’re very sad.”
But that doesn’t mean they can explain it. And the shooters didn’t make it easy for authorities either, given that the hard drive from their computer is gone, and two relatively new cell phones were found smashed in a garbage can near one of the crime scenes, law enforcement officials said.
Neither Farook nor his wife had gotten into trouble with the law. Neither was on any list of potentially radicalized people, and they had no clear ties to any overseas terrorist groups.
But investigators are exploring Farook’s communications with at least one person who was being investigated for possible terror connections. Some were by phone, some on social media.
“These appear to be soft connections,” an official said, meaning they were not frequent contacts. Farook’s last communication with the contacts was months ago.
The FBI wants to interview some of them to learn more about their conversations with Farook.
A federal official said Farook has “overseas communications and associations,” but it’s not yet clear how relevant they are to the shootings. “We don’t know yet what they mean,” the official said.
Bowdich said that among other places, Farook had traveled to Pakistan, even though Abuershaid said “he never traveled to Pakistan.”