26 October 2016
Flags fly at half-staff outside San Bernardino City Hall after last week's shootings. Photo: Reuters
Flags fly at half-staff outside San Bernardino City Hall after last week's shootings. Photo: Reuters

FBI: California shooters were radicalized for some time

Investigators believe the married couple who massacred 14 people in Southern California last week — the US-born husband and his Pakistani wife — had been radicalized “for some time”, but no evidence has yet emerged of an international plot, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation said.

The latest disclosures in the FBI-led investigation came as San Bernardino County employees began returning to work under tighter security, five days after a co-worker, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his spouse opened fire with assault-style rifles on a holiday gathering of his colleagues, Reuters reported.

The couple were killed in a shootout with police several hours after their attack on Wednesday morning in a conference room at the Inland Regional Center social services agency in San Bernardino, about 100 kilometers east of Los Angeles.

The FBI said last week that authorities are investigating the mass shooting as an “act of terrorism”, noting that Farook’s Pakistani-born wife, Tashfeen Malik, 29, was believed to have pledged allegiance on Facebook to the leader of the militant group Islamic State.

In addition to five firearms recovered by investigators, law enforcement officers also have seized the thousands of rounds of ammunition along with explosives and other materials for making numerous pipe bombs.

Questions have been raised about the extent to which Farook, who was born in Illinois to Pakistani immigrant parents and grew up in Southern California, might have been acting under the influence of Malik, whom he married in Saudi Arabia in the summer of 2014 and then returned with to the United States.

But David Bowdish, assistant director of the FBI Los Angeles office, said on Monday that investigators believe “both subjects were radicalized and had been for some time”.

He said it remained to be seen whether they were indoctrinated by other individuals or turned to extremist ideology on their own.

He also cast further doubt on whether the couple were part of a larger organization of militants.

“I want to be crystal clear here: We do not see any evidence so far of … an outside-continental-US plot. We may find it some day, we may not. We don’t know,” he said.

The FBI, he said, was continuing to seek a motive for the attack. Agents believe the couple had been planning more violence because of their cache of ammunition and pipe bombs.

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