SAN BERNARDINO, Calif., (Reuters) – One of the two people accused of killing 14 at a holiday party in California posted an online statement pledging allegiance to a leader of the Islamic State militant group, CNN reported today, citing U.S. officials.
Tashfeen Malik, 27, and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, were killed in a shootout with police hours after the Wednesday massacre at the Inland Regional Center social services agency in San Bernardino, about 60 miles (100 km) east of Los Angeles. The attack was the deadliest mass shooting the United States has experienced in three years.
Malik, a Pakistani native who had been living in Saudi Arabia when she married Farook, posted an online statement of support for a leader of Islamic State on an account using a name other than her own, CNN said. The attack in San Bernardino appeared to be inspired by – but not directed by – the militant group.
The investigation has been focused on the motivation for the attack with officials including President Barack Obama and San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan saying it may have been motivated by extremist ideology.
The couple left behind a 6-month old daughter. Farook’s brother-in-law, Farhan Khan, told NBC News he had begun legal proceedings to adopt the girl and was “very upset and angry” at Farook.
“You left your 6-month-old daughter,” Khan said. “In this life some people cannot have kids. God gave you a gift of a daughter. And you left that kid behind … What did you achieve?”
Twenty-one people were wounded in the attack, the worst gun violence in the nation since the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Farook, a U.S. citizen born in Illinois, was the son of Pakistani immigrants, said Hussam Ayloush, head of the Los Angeles area chapter of the Muslim advocacy group Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Christian Nwadike, who worked with Farook for five years, told CBS that his co-worker had been different since he returned from Saudi Arabia.
“I think he married a terrorist,” Nwadike said.
Investigators are reviewing the couples’ computers and cellphones to see if they had browsed jihadist websites or had contact with militant groups, according to officials in Washington familiar with the investigation.
Police said the couple had two assault-style rifles, two semi-automatic handguns and 1,600 rounds of ammunition in their vehicle, with 12 pipe bombs found in their home.