Law enforcement officials in San Bernardino confirmed on Thursday that Syed Rizwwan Farook was radicalized an in touch with people being investigated by the FBI for international terrorism. Farook’s apparent radicalization contributed to his role in the mass shooting of 14 people Wednesday during a holiday party for the San Bernardino County health department, where Farook worked. FBI’s Los Angeles office assistant director, David Bowditch told reporters that Farook had traveled to Pakistan. Two government officials said no red flags were raised when he’d gone to Saudi Arabia for several weeks in 2013 on the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims are required to take at least once in their lifetime. It was during this trip that he met Malik, a native of Pakistan who came to the United States in July 2014 on a “fiancée visa” and later became a lawful permanent resident.
Officials had previously said neither Farook nor Malik were known to the FBI or on a list of potentially radicalized people. Nor had they had any known interactions with police until Wednesday. Farook had talked by phone and on social media with more than one person being investigated for terrorism. The communications were not frequent and had been several months since Farook’s last back-and-forth with these people. Authorities have begun to piece together some of the key elements of the attack at the center, but have not determined a motive.
If you look at the preparation, the amount of weapons and ammunition, there was obviously a mission here,” Bowdich, told reporters Thursday, but added that at this early stage in the investigation it would be “irresponsible and premature to call this terrorism.”
The two suspects were shot and killed hours after the initial attack during a high-speed chase with officers who came upon them at their Redlands residence. Two officers were slightly injured in the encounter, but none of the wounds was life-threatening. San Bernardino police Chief Jarrod Burguan said Thursday that the pair wore dark tactical clothing as well as utility vests stocked with 1,600 rounds of ammunition when they burst into the center’s conference room. Police found a crude, remote-controlled explosive device made up of three pipe bombs wired together that had been left in a bag at the scene. Burguan said it was not clear whether the killers failed to push the button or the device simply misfired.
Burguan said a search of the couple’s home turned up 2,000 9mm rounds, more than 2500 .223-caliber rounds and “several hundred” 22 long rifle rounds, as well as 12 pipe bombs and tools for making more explosive devices. He said the pair had rented their black SUV getaway car several days earlier and were supposed to return it on the day of the assault. The firearms were legally purchased separately at gun dealers in San Diego and Corona within the past three years, a federal law enforcement official said Thursday. Farook, a county health inspector, bought the two 9 mm handguns found in his arsenal. Farook’s brother-in-law, Farhan Khan, said at a Council on American-Islamic Relations(CAIR) press conference Wednesday evening: “On behalf of my family we all are shocked. We are completely shocked and had no idea.” Saudi Arabia officials confirmed that Farook traveled to Saudi Arabia.