Pakistani in California shooting became hardline in Saudi Arabia: relatives

Published: December 6, 2015
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Tashfeen Malik in this undated photo provided by FBI. PHOTO: REUTERS

Tashfeen Malik in this undated photo provided by FBI. PHOTO: REUTERS

KAROR LAL ESAN, PAKISTAN: The estranged relatives of Tashfeen Malik, a Pakistani woman accused of shooting dead 14 people in California, say she and her father seem to have abandoned the family’s moderate Islam and became more radicalised during years they spent in Saudi Arabia.

Malik, with her husband Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, is accused of storming a gathering in San Bernardino, California, on Wednesday and opening fire in America’s worst mass shooting in three years.

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Investigators are treating Wednesday’s attack as an “act of terrorism.” On Saturday, the Islamic State (IS) group claimed the couple as their followers. There is no evidence yet that IS directed the attack or even knew the attackers.

The Pakistan identification card of Tashfeen Malik is shown in this undated handout picture from a government official and obtained by Reuters on 5 December 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

Malik’s killing spree has horrified her Pakistani relatives. Her father cut off contact with his family after a feud over inheritance, they told Reuters, and moved to Saudi Arabia when his daughter was a toddler. There, it seems, he turned to a stricter form of Islam.

“From what we heard, they lived differently, their mindset is different. We are from a land of Sufi saints … this is very shocking for us,” said school teacher Hifza Bibi, the step-sister of Malik’s father, who lives in Karor Lal Esan town in central Punjab province.

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Sufism, a strain of Islam popular in parts of Pakistan, emphasises a mystical, personal religious connection. Devotees often play music and dance at shrines, and their practises are looked on with suspicion by orthodox Muslims.

“Our brother … went to Saudi and since then he doesn’t care about anyone here,” Bibi said. “A man who didn’t come to attend his own mother’s funeral, what can you expect from him?”

Tashfeen Malik returned to Pakistan and studied pharmacy at Bahauddin Zakaria university in Multan from 2007 to 2012. She lived in a university hostel. An identity card said she was 29 years old at the time of the shootings.

“She was known to be good student with no religious extremist tendencies,” an intelligence official based in the nearby town of Layyah told Reuters.

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Malik’s uncle Javed Rabbani, a clerk in the town’s education department, said he has not seen his brother in 30 years.

“We feel a lot of sadness but we also feel ashamed that someone from our family has done this,” he said. “We can’t even imagine doing something like this. This is a mindset that is alien to us.”

Malik visited Pakistan in 2013 and 2014, security officials told Reuters, but it’s unclear who she met or where she visited.

Pakistani media reported she had links to the radical Red Mosque in the capital of Islamabad, but a cleric and a spokesperson at the mosque said they had never heard of her before.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • lkhan
    Dec 6, 2015 - 10:54AM

    Such a shame. Such people should be reported to the authorities to avoid such massacres…Recommend

  • jay
    Dec 6, 2015 - 11:47AM

    The same place from where Islam came is turning Muslims into radicals .Recommend

  • Saad
    Dec 6, 2015 - 1:46PM

    It is hard to separate religion from terrorism these days. Recommend

  • JSM
    Dec 6, 2015 - 2:11PM

    Pakistani person under Saudi influence- a deadly entity.Recommend

  • Samar
    Dec 6, 2015 - 7:33PM

    She is no way 27 years old. At least 40. Recommend

  • Bashir
    Dec 6, 2015 - 7:45PM

    This is a preplan propaghanda against Islam and pakistan just a 9/11 drama in name of Alqaida by Jews lobby and our media is also fully controlled by same lobbyRecommend

  • whatever
    Dec 6, 2015 - 10:44PM

    @Bashir: yes my friend even APS massacre too was a propaganda to divert attention from preparatory to a victim Pakistan.Recommend

  • bigsaf
    Dec 7, 2015 - 12:52AM

    @Bashir:
    Delusional. Recommend

  • Dec 7, 2015 - 11:40AM

    some how no one noticed that this id card is fake and Pakistani id cards does not use same font they have signs printed on the card and does not have white plan area around it and whole card is coverd with a layer wich shows logos of pakistan govt wich glow in diffrent colors and does not come up clear once you take picture of id card or scan it Recommend

  • Ali Ahmed
    Dec 8, 2015 - 12:23AM

    @Naeem I know right, it takes one google search to get a good reference of what fonts are used in Pakistani ID cards lol. This is the worst Photoshop I’ve ever seen. Also the picture at the front looks like it was glued to the card.Recommend

  • Abdulaleem
    Dec 8, 2015 - 2:05PM

    If she was living in Saudi Arabia, she can only have a NICOP, which is issued in english language onlyRecommend

  • Dec 11, 2015 - 3:11AM

    I don’t think this NIC from Nadra is Real….
    Look at the font on this and your own NIC….Recommend

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