San Bernardino Shooters Were Radicalized Before They Met Each Other Online
The couple that killed 14 people and injured 21 in last week's mass shooting in San Bernardino were radicalized two years ago, before they were dating each other online.In an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, FBI director James B. Comey said that the shooters, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, were both "talking to each other about jihad and martyrdom before they became engaged and married and were living in the U.S," according to the New York Times. The two met online and their conversations about the subjects began in late 2013. Malik entered the United States with Farook in July of 2014 on a K-1 visa, also known as a fiancée visa. Comey added that, "Our investigation to date shows that they were radicalized before they started courting or dating each other online."
The couples' radicalization apparently occurred before the rise of ISIS, when the group took over territory in Iraq and Syria in 2014. Shortly before the shooting took place, Malik pledged allegiance to ISIS in a Facebook post.
Neither individual was on any terror watchlist or previously under investigation, and Malik, a Pakistani national, passed a screening by Homeland Security before being allowed to enter the country.
Despite their radicalization and Malik's pledge of allegiance to ISIS, Comey said the FBI did not have any evidence the two were under orders by the terror group to commit the attack but instead were inspired by them. Days after the attack, Farook and Malik were praised by ISIS as "supporters" but did not claim responsibility.
"To find homegrown violent extremists, to find those that are radicalizing and being inspired by these terrorist groups is a very, very hard thing," said Comey.
Evidence shows that the couple had no accomplices in the attack and had been planning the attack for at least a year, practicing at local shooting ranges and amassing a cache of weapons and bombs in their Redlands apartment. Reuters reports that Farook took out a $28,500 loan from online lender Prosper in the weeks ahead of the attack.
Comey's appearance before the House Judiciary Committee was scheduled before the attack took place.