There is no evidence a married couple who killed 14 people in California this month were part of a terrorist cell, the head of the FBI said on Wednesday, confirming that investigators believe the pair were inspired but not directed by Islamic State.
Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik had been radicalized “for quite some time” and practiced shooting at a gun range days before they opened fire on a San Bernardino holiday party, authorities said Monday.
The San Bernardino massacre, which killed 14 people, has focused new attention on “lone wolf” terrorists who plan attacks away from traditional high-profile targets without directly coordinating with others.
Syed Farook was Chicago-born, with Pakistani roots. He didn’t drink or smoke. He avoided TV and movies, preferring instead to tinker with old cars, work out and memorize the Quran. He had a $49,000-a-year government job as a health inspector and wanted a young wife who shared his Sunni Muslim faith.
No matter what inspired the couple, whether Islamist extremism or perceived workplace grievances, they were mimicking countless other American mass shooters who find some twisted glory in gunning down other citizens — strangers, passers-by, co-workers, moviegoers, schoolchildren. This is a peculiarly American phenomenon, a homegrown form of madness.
U.S. investigators are evaluating evidence that Malik, a Pakistani native who had been living in Saudi Arabia when she married Farook, had pledged allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, two U.S. officials told Reuters.