Couple Hell-Bent on Jihad? Marriage, Baby and Then Bloodshed; FBI Tracking Digital Trail for Terror Link
The Muslim couple who stormed an office holiday party Wednesday in Southern California, mowing down 14 people before dying hours later in a shootout with police, possessed a massive arsenal of ammo, bombs and high-powered weapons -- and investigators were hoping that computer drives and cell phones seized from their home could tell them whether they were radicalized terrorists with more targets in their sights.
Local and federal authorities - as well as President Obama - continued Thursday to resist calling the carnage at a San Bernardino social services facility terrorism, even as evidence mounted that the pair, who wore tactical gear and moved with grim precision, may have been jihadists armed to the teeth and hellbent on slaughtering innocent Americans. More than 5,000 rounds of ammunition were later found in their home, which sources described as "an IED factory" packed with explosives and bomb-making equipment.
"At this stage, we do not yet know why this terrible event occurred," Obama said in an address from the White House. "We'll get to the bottom of this and be vigilant getting the facts before we issue decisive judgments on how this occurred."
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- AP: What We Know About the Two Suspects in the San Bernardino Massacre So Far
- Co-workers describe Syed Farook as reserved, polite
Syed Rizwan Farook, a U.S.-born citizen of Pakistani descent who had traveled to Saudi Arabia for nine days in the summer of 2014 and had recently begun wearing a full beard, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, burst into the facility Wednesday morning and sprayed up to 75 rounds at Farook's own terrified colleagues in a conference room where his employer, the county health department, was hosting a holiday party Farook had angrily bolted only minutes earlier. The pair escaped in a black SUV after the attack, which authorities said was over within as few as 10 minutes, only to resurface three hours later and less than 2 miles away in a fierce gun battle on the city's main drag.
"They came prepared to do what they did, as if they were on a mission," said San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan, who refuted an earlier report by Fox News that the suspects wore GoPro cameras during their initial rampage.
San Bernardino Shooting Suspect Traveled to Saudi Arabia, Was Married, Appeared to be Living ‘American Dream,’ Co-Workers Say
By Jack Dolan, Paul Pringle and Stephen CeasarContact Reporters | LA Times
As the holiday gathering got underway Wednesday morning, Syed Rizwan Farook joined dozens of his colleagues from San Bernardino County's public health department. Farook, an inspector, seemed quiet during the early hours of the event, then vanished just as a group photo was about to be taken.
Shortly afterward, gunfire erupted at the Inland Regional Center where the employees filled a conference room. By the end of the day, police had identified Farook, 28, as a suspect in the massacre and said he was one of two people shot to death in a gun battle with officers. The other was 27-year-old Tashfeen Malik, who a family member said was Farook's wife.
Police officials said Farook had worked for the county for five years. San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said that there were reports of a dispute before Farook left the party.
Authorities Pick Through Suspects’ Path: Marriage, Baby and Then Bloodshed
By Yanan Wang, Justin Wm. Moyer and Peter Holley | Washington Post
Syed Rizwan Farook was looking for a wife. On at least two online sites, he posted details for prospective brides. “Religious but modern,” he apparently wrote on one. He made a point of noting his American citizenship on another.
How he ultimately made contact with Pakistan-born Tashfeen Malik remains unclear. But family members said Farook traveled to Saudi Arabia, where Malik was living, and that they returned to Southern California as a couple and began a life in quiet Redlands, an area of ranch houses and once lush lawns now browned by drought.
Wednesday morning, they dropped off their 6-month-old daughter with Farook’s mother, according to family members. Sometime around midday, police say they donned masks and armed themselves with assault rifles and handguns before storming a holiday party hosted by the county health agency where Farook worked. At least 14 people died. Hours later, 28-year-old Farook and 27-year-old Malik were dead by police gunfire just two miles from the massacre site.