The Islamic State on Saturday claimed that the married couple who killed 14 people in California earlier this week were its followers, as President Barack Obama vowed that the United States “will not be terrorized” by such shooting attacks.
The declaration by group also known as Da’ish came three days after Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik carried out the attack on a holiday party for civil servants in San Bernardino. The two died hours later in a shootout with police.
“Two followers of Islamic State attacked several days ago a center in San Bernadino in California,” the group’s daily online radio broadcast al Bayan said on Saturday. An English-language version of the broadcast was later released calling the attackers ‘soldiers’ of IS.
The broadcast came a day after Facebook confirmed that comments praising Islamic State were posted around the time of the mass shooting to an account on the social media website established by Malik under an alias. However, it was uncertain whether the comments were posted by Malik herself or someone with access to her page.
US government sources have said Tashfeen and her husband may have been inspired by IS, but there was no evidence the attack was directed by the militant group or that the organisation even knew who they were.
Citing an unnamed federal law enforcement official, the Los Angeles Times reported that Farook had ‘some kind’ of contact with people from the Nusra Front and the radical Shabab group in Somalia. “But the nature of that contact and with whom is unclear,” the Times said.
Farook family attorneys have denied there was any evidence that either the husband or the wife harboured extremist views. But Tashfeen’s estranged relatives said she and her father had seemingly abandoned the family’s moderate Islam and became more radicalised during years they spent in Saudi Arabia.
If Wednesday’s mass shooting proves to have been the work of people inspired by a militant group, it would mark the deadliest such attack in the US since September 11, 2001.
President Obama in his weekly radio address on Saturday vowed that federal investigators will find out what motivated the couple.
“It is entirely possible that these two attackers were radicalised to commit this act of terror,” he said. “And if so, it would underscore a threat we’ve been focused on for years; the danger of people succumbing to violent extremist ideologies.”
Obama, in his address, also assured that: “We are strong. And we are resilient. And we will not be terrorised.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 6th, 2015.