FBI: Calif. shooters privately discussed commitment to jihad

FBI Director James Comey speaks during a press conference after addressing the NYPD Shield Conference at NYPD headquarters, Wednesday in New York.  (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

FBI Director James Comey speaks during a press conference after addressing the NYPD Shield Conference at NYPD headquarters, Wednesday in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

NEW YORK — The husband-and-wife team who killed 14 people and wounded 21 others this month in San Bernardino, California, communicated privately about jihad and martyrdom before they were married, but there is no evidence to suggest the couple revealed those thoughts publicly on social media, the FBI director said Wednesday.

“We can see from our investigation that in late 2013, before there is a physical meeting of these two people resulting in their engagement and then their journey to the United States, they’re communicating online, showing signs in their communication of their joint commitment to jihad and to martyrdom,” James Comey said after a New York conference involving the city’s police department and private businesses.

Comey said those messages between Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik were direct, private messages.

“So far, in this investigation we have found no evidence of posting on social media by either of them at that period in time and thereafter reflecting their commitment to jihad or to martyrdom,” he said, referring to media reports suggesting that Malik had spoken openly on social media about jihad and that background checks had not detected those comments.

Comey also said the July 16 attack in two military sites in Chattanooga, during which five U.S. service members were killed, was “inspired and motivated by foreign terrorist propaganda.” The FBI had previously hesitated to use the word terrorism in relation to the attack.

Comey said he understands Americans are jittery, but citizens should try to channel their awareness into vigilance, not panic. He said the threat from the Islamic State group has not changed — but it’s vastly different from how terror cells operated around the time of the Sept. 11 attack.

“Your parents’ al-Qaida is a very different model and was a very different threat that what we face today,” he said.

The message is so much easier to receive now, he said. Islamic State operatives reach out via social media, and they want eager followers to join the fight at the Syria-Iraq border or kill where they are. And they use encrypted messaging programs that no one can access — not even the companies who make them.

Comey reiterated a push by many law enforcement agencies around the country to change how technology companies encrypt applications to make it easier for agents to access messages with a court order.CaliforniaFBIJames ComeyJihadistsSan BernardinoSyed Rizwan FarookTashfeen Malik

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco Police Officer Nicholas Buckley, pictured here in 2014, is now working out of Bayview Station. <ins>(Department of Police Accountability records)</ins>
SF police return officer to patrol despite false testimony

A San Francisco police officer accused of fabricating a reason for arresting… Continue reading

Disability advocates protested outside the home of San Francisco Health Officer Tomas Aragon. (Courtesy Brooke Anderson)
Vaccine rollout plan for people with disabilities remains deeply flawed

On February 13, disability activists paid a visit to the house of… Continue reading

Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Shamann Walton announced that funding would be diverted from the police budget toward the black community in June 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City directs $60 million toward Black community services and housing support

San Francisco released new details Thursday for how it plans to spend… Continue reading

The Stud, The City’s oldest gay bar which is vacating its longtime home at Ninth and Harrison streets after more than 50 years, on Thursday, May 21, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City’s nightlife recovery fund approved but struggling business owners fear relief may come too late

As San Francisco’s nightlife scene approaches nearly a year of a complete… Continue reading

Riordan Crusaders versus St. Ignatius Wildcats at JB Murphy Field on the St. Ignatius Prepatory High School Campus on September 14, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner)
State allows high school sports to resume, but fight is far from over

For the first time since mid-March 2020, there is hope for high… Continue reading

Most Read