But by whom — and where? The FBI still doesn’t know the answers to those questions, but they have no doubt any longer that Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik plotted and prepared for the attack on Farook’s co-workers well in advance. The hypothesis that Malik drove that radicalization may be as false as the idea that Farook was provoked into action at the conference, too:
David Bowdich, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, said investigators have yet to determine whether Syed Rizwan Farook, a 28-year-old county health inspector, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 29, had been drawn into violent extremism by someone they knew or whether they had developed those beliefs on their own.
“Both subjects were radicalized and have been for quite some time,” Bowdich said at a news conference here. “How did that happen and by whom and where did that happen? I will tell you right now, we don’t know those answers at this point.”
The FBI was working Monday to confirm reports that Malik, who was born in Pakistan, had ties to Islamabad’s Red Mosque, which is notorious for its connections to Islamic fundamentalism, an FBI official said. Mosque officials have denied any association with her.
Whatever the roots of their beliefs, the couple had prepared carefully for the attack, Bowdich said, visiting local shooting ranges to practice their aim as recently as a few days before the massacre.
Investigators now say that Farook was radicalized before going to Saudi Arabia to meet Malik. That contradicts the original thought that Malik may have married Farook with the intention of radicalizing him into terrorism:
Investigators say they have learned through interviews with people who knew Mr. Farook for several years that he had militant views before he met Ms. Malik online and married her in Saudi Arabia.
“At first it seemed very black and white to us that he changed radically when he met her,” said one of the officials who declined to be identified because of the continuing investigation. “But it’s become clear that he was that way before he met her.”
The FBI told the media yesterday that they have no evidence of coordination beyond the two, especially with terror organizations outside the country. However, they also stressed that they have a lot more work to do in the investigation, too. “That takes time,” Bowdich said of the effort to build extensive profiles of their extended network of friends, family, and acquaintances. “This is Day 5.”
“The question we are trying to get at is how did that happen and by whom, and where did it happen,” Mr. Bowdich said. The federal authorities also disclosed that investigators had recovered 19 types of pipes in the couple’s home that could have been made into bombs, an increase from the 12 earlier identified.
Let’s tick off the theories which turned out to be unsubstantiated if not entirely false: It was workplace violence. A Jewish man provoked Farook at the conference. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision. Malik pushed her husband into terrorism. So far, none of those are turning out to be true. What about the proposed solution on which Democrats and the media have seized? After perusing the reports from both the Washington Post and New York Times, I see no evidence that either Farook or Malik made it onto the no-fly list. In fact, the picture on the front page shows the pair after they landed in Chicago in July 2014, apparently long after Farook had been radicalized.
The no-fly list does make for a decent red herring, though.