San Bernardino terrorist Tashfeen Malik pledged ISIS Allegiance

The landlord of the San Bernardino husband-and-wife shooters invited members of the media to tour their rental home in Redlands, California, this morning – just as it has emerged that Tashfeen Malik posted a pledge of allegiance to ISIS and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, shortly before unleashing a deadly attack on a holiday party Wednesday.

A US law enforcement official said the social media post was made on an account bearing a different name and was later deleted. This information provides the strongest evidence to date that the rampage may have been a terrorist attack.

Another official speaking on condition of anonymity said Malik expressed ‘admiration’ for al-Baghdadi and said there was no sign that anyone affiliated with ISIS communicated back to her and no signs of any operational instructions being passed on to her.

FBI agents have been combing through cellphones and a computer hard drive left behind by the couple in their Redlands, California, rental home to try to establish a motive for the killings.

The stunning disclosure about the pledge of loyalty to the extremist group was preceded by news that investigators were looking into whether Malik, 27, was responsible for radicalizing her husband of two years, 28-year-old Syed Farook.

According to Fox News, it is believed that on at least one of Farook’s two trips to Saudi Arabia in 2013 and 2014, one or both of the spouses reached out to suspected members of al Qaeda.

Christian Nwadike, a co-worker of Farook’s at the San Bernardino County health department, told CBS This Morning that the mild-mannered man was different upon his return from Saudi Arabia last year.


When asked if he believed Farook may have been radicalized, Nwadike replied: ‘Yes, by the wife. I think he married a terrorist.’

At this stage in the investigation, officials say it appears the couple were inspired by ISIS, rather than expressly ordered to carry out the attacks.

Some investigators believe Malik and Faroook were self-radicalized, but it is also possible that someone may have motivated them.

Malik moved to Saudi Arabia from Pakistan about 25 years ago but returned home to study to become a pharmacist, according to two Pakistani officials.

Malik was from the Layyah district in southern Punjab province, the officials said. She returned to Pakistan five or six years ago to complete a degree from Bahauddin Zakariya University in Multan.

An online transcript from Bahauddin Zakariya University uncovered by Daily Mail Online on Friday shows Malik scored 74.88 out of 100 on one of her pharmacy exams.

One of Malik’s uncles, Javed Rabbani, said Malik’s father, Gulzar, changed while the family was living in Saudi Arabia.

‘When relatives visited him, they would come back and tell us how conservative and hard-line he had become,’ Rabbani said in an interview with Reuters.

The father had built a house in Multan, where he stays when he visits Pakistan, according to another uncle, Malik Anwaar.

Rabbani said he had been contacted by Pakistani intelligence as part of the investigation into the San Bernardino shooting.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the November 13 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and injured hundreds. The terror group has called on its supporters around the world to strike targets in the West.

Earlier it emerged that Farook abruptly stopped going to his mosque three weeks ago, following years of attending almost every day, his friends have revealed – after it emerged that he was in contact with suspected extremists and recently got into an argument over Islam with his Messianic Jewish co-worker.


Brothers Nizaam and Rahemaan Ali, who are members at the Dar Al Uloom Al Islamiyah mosque in San Bernardino, said the 28-year-old health inspector talked of getting a master’s degree, was fond of tinkering with cars and proudly announced when he was married two years ago to Tashfeen Malik in Saudi Arabia.

‘He never, ever talked about killing people or discussed politics, or said that he had problems at work,’ Rahemaan Ali said.

The last time Mr Ali saw his friend was three weeks prior to Wednesday’s tragedy, when Farook suddenly stopped showing up for prayer service.

The Ali bothers’ description of a young husband and father living the American dream, devoted to his family and religion with a good job, clashed with the potentially radicalized suspect who along with his wife, police say, staged an commando-style attack at a work holiday party at a social service center on Wednesday.

A day after the rampage that left 14 dead and 21 others wounded, details about Farook’s life began to take shape, but critical questions went unanswered, including how he and his 27-year-old Pakistani wife quietly and methodically stockpiled a terrifying arsenal of arms and explosives for the attack.

The details come as authorities try to determine what could have motivated the massacre at a holiday party.

A friend of a man killed in the rampage said he and Farook had a heated conversation about Islam two weeks before the shootings.

Kuuleme Stephens said she once happened to call Nicholas Thalasinos, 52, a Messianic Jew who was passionate about pro-Israel causes and was known to rant on Facebook about Islam, while he was at work and having a discussion with Farook.

Thalasinos, 52, identified Farook by name and told her that he ‘doesn’t agree that Islam is not a peaceful religion,’ Stephens said.

Stephens said Farook replied that Americans don’t understand Islam. According to Stephens, both men worked as restaurant inspectors and regularly discussed politics and religion. She added that Thalasinos did not think their conversations would turn violent.

Thalasinos’ wife, Jennifer Thalasinos, told The New York Times that her husband had talked about Farook but never said anything negative.

The FBI was investigating the shootings as a potential act of terrorism but had reached no firm conclusions, said a US official briefed on the probe who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation.  

On Thursday, a US intelligence official revealed that Farook was in touch by phone and through social media with multiple international terrorism subjects who were under FBI scrutiny.


David Chesley, an attorney representing Farook’s family, insisted there was ‘no smoking gun’ to suggest a motive but added: ‘Both the sisters and the brothers as they went through the information today, there was one silly thing that came up – that some of his co-workers at some point made remarks about his beard.

‘But it so slight and no-one has ever stated that he has ever acted in a hostile or a violent way towards anyone. They were a very polite, conservative married couple.’ His colleague and fellow attorney, Mohammad Abuershaid, added: ‘There is no indication that he was involved with anybody physically.

‘All we know is that there was a couple of situations with people who might have teased him about his facial hair.

‘There’s no indication he had a short temper. It was people just teasing him about his facial hair and how he looked. He had a long beard and a very short trimmed haircut.

‘It was just basic comments but he used to brush them off pretty easily. The family is in shock just as we are. They had no idea something like this would happen.’

‘There’s no indication he had a short temper. It was people just teasing him about his facial hair and how he looked. He had a long beard and a very short trimmed haircut.

‘It was just basic comments but he used to brush them off pretty easily. The family is in shock just as we are. They had no idea something like this would happen.’

Wearing black tactical gear and wielding two assault rifles and a pair of hanguns, Farook and his wife sprayed as many as 75 rounds into a room at a social service center for the disabled, where about 75 of Farook’s co-workers had gathered Wednesday morning.

Farook had attended the event but slipped out and returned in battle dress.

Four hours later and two miles away, the couple died in a furious gunbattle in which they fired 76 rounds, while 23 law officers unleashed about 380, police said.

At the social service center, the couple left three rigged-together pipe bombs with a remote-control detonating device that apparently malfunctioned.

Police said the couple had more than 1,600 bullets when they were killed by authorities, and that the shooters had nearly 3,000 rounds of ammunition at their home, as well as 12 pipe bombs and tools that could be used to make explosive devices.

The massacre came as a shock to leaders in the Muslim community, and many wondered what could have motivated it.

‘We don’t know the motives. Is it work, rage-related? Is it mental illness? Is it extreme ideology? At this point, it’s really unknown to us,’ said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, based on conversations with Farook’s brother-in-law.

Syed Rizwan Farook was born in Chicago on June 14, 1987, to parents born in Pakistan. He was raised in Southern California.

In July 2010, he was hired as a seasonal public employee and served until December of that year, according to a work history supplied by San Bernardino County. In January 2012, he was rehired as a trainee environmental health specialist before being promoted two years later.

Online records indicate that Farook earned a total of $71,230 in 2013 working as an environmental health specialist for San Bernardino County.

As for Malik, she came to the U.S. in July 2014 on a Pakistani passport and a fiancée visa, authorities said. To get the visa, immigrants submit to an interview and biometric and background checks — screening intended to identify anyone who might pose a threat.

They were married on Aug. 16, 2014, in nearby Riverside County, according to their marriage license. Both listed their religion as Muslim.

The Ali brothers, Farook’s friends from the mosque, said he was always working on his cars and rebuilding engines. They remember him driving a newer-model Mustang and an older Lexus at various points.

Rahemaan Ali said Farook seemed happy and his usual self when he saw him, and both brothers said they never saw anything in Farook that would lead them to think he would ever commit violence.

‘I can’t believe it. There’s no way to express the shock I’m in,’ said Nizaam Ali. ‘This was a person who was successful, who had a good job, a good income, a wife and a family. What was he missing in his life?’

They remember when Farook announced that he would be getting married, saying he had met his future wife online and that she was Pakistani. Farook told the brothers that he traveled to Mecca in Saudi Arabia last summer.

They said he was only gone for three weeks to a month before returning to the US with his wife.

Malik never came through Saudi Arabia and instead traveled through Islamabad, arriving on a K-1 visa for fiancées and with a Pakistani passport. The couple had a 6-month-old daughter, who they left with Farook’s mother in the nearby city of Redlands before heading to the center.

His job at the county Department of Public Health took him Wednesday to the Inland Regional Center, where the department held a holiday banquet, Ayloush said. Co-workers described him as aloof while others said he could be chatty when the subject interested him.

Patrick Baccari, who sat at the same table as Farook at the party, recalled he was short on words and inclined to talk about cars, not religion.

‘It seems the only response I ever got from him was if I initiated the conversation,’ Baccari said.

Farhan Khan, who is married to Farook’s sister Saira, echoed the Ali brothers’ and Mr Baccari’s assessments of the 28-year-old, telling NBC News he and wife Tashfeen had been leading a ‘normal’ life until Wednesday morning, and that his relative was a ‘bad person’ but ‘not a radical.’

‘It’s his stupid action, nothing to do with religion at all. It’s always going to be a question … you know, why he did something like that. A normal person living with my family. Why would he do something like that?’

Khan said his brother-in-law and his wife lived in a ‘normal house’ with a TV, a play area for their baby daughter and workout equipment. Farook’s hobby, as it’s been mentioned by others who knew him, was to fix up used cars and them resell them.

‘I didn’t see at all. Normal person … as normal as you can think. I mean, you know, a person that … go to work, come back home, you know, play with the kid, eat dinner, sleep. Normal person,’ Khan reiterated.

Khan wondered whether the seemingly mild-mannered, devout husband and father had been brainwashed by someone, or whether something made him suddenly snap.

Farook’s sister, Sarah Khan, said in separate interview with CBS News this morning that it was ‘mind-boggling’ to her that her brother and his wife, who were the parents of a 6-month-old daughter, would do something like this.

Khan tearfully said that he was having a hard time forgiving his brother-in-law for the carnage he caused.

He also said he has begun the legal process to adopt Farook and Malik’s orphaned baby daughter.

Little is known about Farook’s upbringing, though he grew up in a family in which his mother accused his father of being an abusive alcoholic.

Farook’s mother alleged in 2006 that her husband, also named Syed, attacked her while her children were present, dropped a TV on her and pushed her toward a car, according to divorce records.

Rafia Sultana Farook filed a petition for a domestic violence order of protection on July 3, 2006, against her husband, also named Syed.

Rafia Farook said she was forced to move out of her home with three of her children because her husband continually harassed her ‘verbally and physically and refused to leave the home,’ according to the divorce records.

Meanwhile, Farook’s older brother, Syed Raheel Farook, was revealed to be a decorated Navy veteran honored for his role in the war on terror.

As for Malik, she came to the US in July 2014 on a Pakistani passport and a fiancée visa, authorities said. To get the visa, immigrants submit to an interview and biometric and background checks — screening intended to identify anyone who might pose a threat.

They were married on Aug. 16, 2014, in nearby Riverside County, according to their marriage license. Both listed their religion as Muslim.

Dane Adams, of Corona, said Syed Farook’s father, who moved in with his son, the younger Farook’s brother, two doors down a few months ago, was talkative, often visiting as Adams worked on classic cars in the garage. He talked about his family and said he was divorced.

Adams said he often saw the man walking with his grandchild, who Adams guessed was about a year old.

‘That baby’s got the cutest smile in the world,’ he said.