Christian Nwadike was shocked when he learned the man accused of gunning down over a dozen people turned out to be the coworker he sat only feet from for five years. He said Farook was different after he returned from Saudi Arabia.
“Do you believe that he was radicalized?” Begnaud asked him.
“Yes, by the wife. I think he married a terrorist,” Nwadike said.
“He married a terrorist?”
“Yes,” Nwadike responded.
Maybe that’s just a colleague grasping for ways to reconcile how the guy he chatted with at the water cooler could turn around and commit mass murder. A terrorist was hiding in plain sight at work and no one figured it out? Why, he must have been manipulated. Cherchez la femme. The fact that Malik actually took time during the attack to post something about ISIS seems to prove, though, that she a willing co-conspirator. How willing? According to the LA Times, she was the one firing a semiautomatic rifle at cops from the back of the SUV when they were in pursuit after the attack. (So much for her lawyer’s theory that she was too small to wield a weapon like that.) She and Farook apparently met online in 2013 and then married last year, when he brought her from Saudi Arabia to the U.S. on a fiancee visa. Was that online relationship a love connection or a matter of recruiting an American citizen to bring a jihadi operative legally into the United States? (Remember, Farook was reportedly talking to at least one international terror suspect by phone or social media.) Then again, if this was all a ruse to position her inside the U.S. for an attack, why did they have a baby together?
It could be that it was a love connection and they both became radicals here. But who was the ringleader? Josh Marshall of TPM is wondering too:
Put more simply, what are the odds that of all the women living in Saudi Arabia in 2013, Farouk would have began a relationship and married one of the very small subset of women who not only subscribed to radical jihadist politics but was one prepared to participate in what amounted to a suicide mission? I’d say those are long odds.
Indeed this morning we have the first reports that either just before or just after the attacks, Malik made a pledge to ISIS leader al-Baghdadi on social media. The following is not news or reporting. It is caveated speculation based on the shreds of evidence we now have: but it seems likely to me that she was the channel of radicalization for her husband or at least the catalyst maintaining it from initial interest to its final, bloody crescendo on Wednesday. Indeed, I’m curious whether, having reached out to radical elements abroad, Farouk wasn’t matched together with Malik either to keep him on his track of radicalization or to get her into the United States or perhaps both.
Women jihadis exist — one of the suicide bombers in Paris was a woman — but women masterminds of terror attacks are rare. Offhand the only one I can think of is Samantha Lewthwaite. Is Malik another? The flip side of the point above about having a baby together is that, as Dianne Feinstein said, leaving an infant behind for a suicide mission is not something most women would easily do. Malik was awfully committed to this attack.
Exit question: Why did Farook suddenly stop going to mosque three weeks ago?