Malik, 29, may have gotten some of her steeliness from attending the ultra-conservative Al-Huda religious institute for affluent women in Pakistan, one of a chain of Al-Huda schools that has spread like a social movement to the United States, Canada, and around the world since its inception in 1994.
The FBI said last week that Malik swore an allegiance to ISIS to Facebook around the time of last Wednesday’s attack. But The Daily Beast has learned her real inspiration, ideologically speaking, might have come from another woman, a devout Islamic scholar who always wears the full burqa, as Malik did, and advocates a Saudi-like Wahabism dogma for the rich women who attend her seminars, which reportedly often turn into pious conservatives overnight.
Al-Huda International was founded by 57-year-old Farhat Hashmi, a woman so controversial that Canadian officials asked her to leave the country in 2006 after she had immigrated there with her family, Maclean’s magazine reported at the time.
The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that former classmates of Malik’s at Bahauddin Zakariya University in Multan, where she was a pharmacy student, said she went to nearby Al-Huda classes every day.