The mysterious Pakistani woman who with her husband gunned down 14 Wednesday at a Southern California holiday party reportedly pledged her allegiance to ISIS before the massacre, according to a government source, in what appears to be concrete evidence that the rampage was at least inspired, if not directed, by the terrorist group.
Tashfeen Malik is believed to have posted her pledge to ISIS leader and self-proclaimed “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on or around the time of the attack, in which she and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, stormed a San Bernardino party for his co-workers before escaping. The pair died hours later in a shootout with police, the 29-year-old Pakistani woman remains a name without a face.
The pledge, reported by Reuters, citing federal sources, provided one of the first clues to Malik’s identity and motivation. The aura of mystery surrounding Malik has given rise to suspicions she may have been the radicalizing force who turned her new husband from an aloof county restaurant inspector into her cohort in carnage, an Islamist fanatic capable of murdering co-workers who had embraced him for years.
“Tashfeen remains the biggest mystery,” said a leader of the area’s Pakistani-American Muslim community. “She’s the one no one knows anything about and has little to no presence on the Internet or having interacted with others in the Muslim community.”
“Tashfeen remains the biggest mystery. She’s the one no one knows anything about and has little to no presence on the Internet or having interacted with others in the Muslim community.”
– Southern California Pakistani-American leader
The aura of mystery surrounding Malik has given rise to suspicions she may have been the radicalizing force who turned her new husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, from an aloof county restaurant inspector into her cohort in carnage, an Islamist fanatic capable of murdering co-workers who had embraced him for years.
What is known is that Malik met Farook online and that the two met became engaged after Farook traveled to Saudi Arabia in September 2013. Malik applied for a K-1 visa at the American embassy in Islamabad in May, 2014 and two months later Farook again traveled to Saudi Arabia, met her there and brought her to the U.S. on a K-1 visa, a 90-day visa given to fiancés planning to marry Americans.
They were married on Aug. 16, 2014, in nearby Riverside County, Calif. according to their marriage license. The marriage and passage of criminal and national security background checks using FBI and Department of Homeland Security databases resulted in a conditional green card for Malik in July 2015, two months after she gave birth to their baby daughter.
Malik and Farook, an American citizen born in Chicago and raised in Southern California by parents of Pakistani descent, lived with their daughter and his mother, Rafia Farook, in a Redlands, Calif., apartment described by one investigator as an “IED factory” and ammo arsenal.
However, Farook’s mother claimed not to have suspected any potential plots or problems pertaining to her son and daughter-in-law, telling others that the weaponry didn’t raise any eyebrows as he “was always into guns” from a young age and shooting was very much a part of his life.
Federal officials confirmed that the four guns Malik and Farook carried when they were killed in a shootout Wednesday afternoon, some three hours after storming the San Bernardino social services facility where his department was holding a holiday party, were purchased legally.
There have been reports Farook had ties to radicals in Pakistan and had a trip made there in recent years, but a source connected to the Pakistani Consulate in Los Angeles told FoxNews.com that he did not possess a Pakistani passport and that there is no record of him applying for a visa to travel to Pakistan through his local consulate. That did not preclude the possibility that he may have entered the country illegally or obtained a visa overseas or elsewhere.
Farook is a third-generation American from a family hailing from Karachi. Sources close to his family insisted that his marriage to Malik was not arranged. He told co-workers, who hosted a baby shower for him and his wife earlier this year, that Malik was a pharmacist. The California Board of Pharmacy has no record of her working as either a pharmacist or a pharmacist’s assistant.
Prior to their marriage, Farook had multiple online dating profiles claiming he was a Sunni Muslim from a “religious but modern family” and that he was “looking for a girl who has the same outlook, wear hijab, but live life to the fullest, be my partner for snowboarding, to go out and eat with friends, go camping, working on cars with me.”
Farook was remembered as reserved by co-workers, who said he had grown his beard out in recent months – often a sign among Muslims of heightened religious devotion. He also had gotten into several heated arguments with a co-worker, Nicholas Thalasinos, about Islam. Thalasinos reportedly questioned whether Farook’s faith was truly a “religion of peace.” He was one of the 14 killed in Wednesday’s attack.
Neither Malik nor Farook had a criminal record, and the couple did not mix with the larger Pakistani-American community, and few people claim to have seen, let alone met, Malik, including neighbors. The Pakistani-American Muslim community leader, who asked that his name not be used, said the community believes is is clear that someone radicalized Farook.
“This event has shaken everyone,” said the source. “The fact that Syed and his wife seemed to be so removed from the community and no one really knows much about him or his wife at all can often be a key indicator something is wrong.”