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The Feds Say the Female San Bernardino Shooter Pledged Allegiance to the Islamic State

The tragic mass shooting that killed 14 and wounded 21 is now being investigated as an act of terrorism.

by Brian McManus
Dec 4 2015, 4:29pm

Photo via Flickr user Peter Stevens

Tashfeen Malik, the 27-year-old Pakistani woman authorities believe helped plan and carry out Wednesday's tragic mass shooting in San Bernardino, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in a since-deleted post on Facebook before the shooting, federal law enforcement officials said Friday. Though there's still no evidence that the attacks were the result of any kind of directive from a larger organization—the Islamic State or otherwise—they are now being investigated as an act of terrorism, the FBI said at a press conference.

"At this point we believe they were more self-radicalized and inspired by the group than actually told to do the shooting," one federal law enforcement official told the New York Times.

Prior to the shooting, Malik and her husband, 28-year-old American Syed Farook, took care to delete information from some of their electronic devices, a move that suggests planning and would seem to hint at some kind of ideological motivation. Further muddying the waters, the LA Times reports that the feds believe Farook to have been in touch with people tied to at least two other extremist groups abroad, the Nusra Front in Syria and al-Shabab, in Somalia.

The couple apparently met online, and Malik lived in Saudi Arabia before moving to the US two years ago after they were married. As a deep dive by the Washington Post suggests, the two presented as a regular family. They had a nice home, a six-month-old daughter, and job security, and Malik had to pass background checks before being admitted to the US under a visa program, according to the Times.

"He was married, he had a daughter and last year he made $77,000. He had everything to be happy," a friend who attended the same mosque as Farook, Gasser Shehata, told AFP, which also reports acquaintances say the couple were living "the American Dream" and exhibited no outward extremist views or anti-American sentiment.

Also on Friday morning, cable news outlets and other members of the national media swarmed into what appeared to be the Redlands, California, residence occupied by the couple prior to their death in a shootout with police. Reporters promptly began rifling through personal effects, in some cases broadcasting sensitive information on live television. Why a relatively fresh crime scene was not secured by local or national law enforcement remains unclear, though the FBI quickly indicated investigators had finished their work there.

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This post has been updated.