No evidence California shooters were part of terrorist cell: FBI

No evidence attackers Rizwan Farook, Tashfeen Malik were part of terrorist cell, says bureau director


Reuters December 16, 2015
Tashfeen Malik, Rizwan Farook. PHOTO: FILE

NEW YORK: 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, echoing investigators' views that the pair were inspired by, rather than organised by Islamic State.

The militant group has "revolutionised" terrorism by seeking to inspire such small-scale attacks, FBI Director James Comey said, noting the group uses social media, encrypted communications and slickly produced propaganda to recruit followers around the world.

"Your parents' al Qaeda was a very different model than the threat we face today," Comey told a counterterrorism conference in New York. However, he said that while the perpetrators of the Dec 2 shootings in San Bernardino, California - Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 29 - had expressed support for "jihad and martyrdom" in private communications, they never did so on social media.

Tashfeen Malik pledged allegiance to IS leader

Comey said the Federal Bureau of Investigation currently has "hundreds" of investigations in all 50 US states involving potential Islamic State-inspired plots.

His remarks came as Americans are jittery two weeks after the San Bernardino attack.

Islamic State is based in Iraq and Syria, where it controls a large area of territory as it seeks to carve out a caliphate. It claimed responsibility for attacks in Paris on Nov 13 that killed 130 people.

Pakistani in California shooting became hardline in Saudi Arabia

Comey said the group has perfected the use of social media, and Twitter in particular, to contact potential followers in the United States and elsewhere.

"Twitter works as a way to sell books, as a way to promote movies, and it works as a way to crowdsource terrorism - to sell murder," Comey said.

Islamic State also employs "end-to-end" encryption when communicating with individuals who it believes are willing to carry out killings in its name, Comey said. That has posed a significant challenge for investigators, who often find themselves stymied even when they have court orders giving them access to devices.

But Comey added he is convinced that law enforcement and technology companies can work together to solve that problem without compromising personal privacy.

"We are not going to break the internet," he said. "We are not going to jeopardise people's security."

COMMENTS (7)

asad | 5 years ago | Reply So, news regarding their alliance with ISIS were all fabricated ? I wonder how much truth lies in this whole story of this couple
Smiling Buddha | 5 years ago | Reply I still believe there is serious goof up in investigation because a mother of 6 months old baby cannot hold gun and kill so many innocent people. Truth will prevail.
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