Why is that significant? Because Tashfeen Malik didn’t enter the U.S. until July 27, 2014, the day that now-famous photo of her and Syed Farook was snapped at O’Hare. If NBC’s sources are right that they prepared for the attack for a year, that means Malik was here just four months before she became an active jihadi. What’s more likely, that her new life as a married woman in America turned suddenly into plans for terrorism within weeks of arriving? Or that she was intent on terrorism before she ever stepped on a plane?
Two sources said Farook and Malik had practiced their shooting skills at a Riverside, California-area gun range for a year or more before last Wednesday’s attack on a holiday office party. They killed 14 people and wounded 21 more with firearms at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino.
Counterterrorism officials also told NBC News that Farook and Malik were making preparations for some time to “take care of both grandma and the baby.” The couple lived in a Redlands, California residence with their 6-month-old daughter and Farook’s 62-year-old mother, Rafia Farook. They left their daughter with Rafia Farook on the morning of the attack.
Do the math. If the baby’s six months old now, Malik must have already been pregnant with her when she started training for terror. That would explain why they waited so long to strike: A woman jihadi in her third trimester is less physically able than a mom who’s had her baby and is fully recovered. Or maybe they got squeamish about the possibility of the baby dying in utero in a shootout with police? If you like Trump’s idea of targeting terrorists’ families, there’s circumstantial evidence that some jihadis do value the lives of their kin more highly than their own.
But let’s rethink. Is it possible that Farook was able to quickly convince Malik to wage jihad after arriving in the U.S. even though she had no intention of doing so initially? This is important:
What happened to transform a trained pharmacist and a county health inspector into terrorists, and when did they take that dark turn?
Officials say it could have been years before last week’s deadly attack in San Bernardino, California.
Investigators believe shooter Syed Rizwan Farook may have been plotting an earlier attack in California with someone else, two U.S. officials told CNN on Tuesday. One of the officials said the two conspired in 2012 and a specific target was considered. The pair “got spooked” and decided not to go through with the earlier attack after a round of terror-related arrests in the area, an official said.
He was intent on jihad before he met her. And she was a “hardline” Muslim before she met him, if perhaps not an active threat herself. How hard would it have been for him to enlist her in a terror plot knowing that a devout Muslim woman won’t easily say no to her husband, especially when he’s framing the mission as a matter of religious duty?
So yeah, it’s possible that Malik turned full jihadi after she got here. But not probable, per the latest from the FBI:
FBI Director James Comey says the two San Bernardino shooters were radicalized at least two years ago and had discussed jihad and martyrdom as early as 2013.
Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, were radicalized even before they met online.
Why did Farook wait, though? He could have shot up a conference room at work years ago without her help. Was it a long process of working up the nerve? (That’s hard to believe if he was already serious enough to have chosen a target in 2012, which may or may not have been a local high school.) Or did he just want a taste of family life before he murdered a bunch of people? That’s hard to believe too, in that every day he waited to strike increased the odds that he’d be sniffed out by the feds before he could do anything.
Update: Well then.
Asked if the courtship and marriage might have been purposely arranged by a foreign terror organization to get two terror operatives into the U.S. to pull off the attack, Comey said, “I don’t know the answer to that yet.”
Here’s another thought. Was the baby just “cover” in case the feds started investigating them? If the FBI had any suspicions about Malik this past year, she could have just told them, “Would a pregnant woman really be thinking about jihad?”