September 26, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

FBI’S Joint Terrorism Task Force Takes Lead In San Bernardino Massacre Investigation:

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force has now taken the lead in the investigation into the San Bernardino shooting rampage that killed 14 and wounded 21, which FBI officials have said was likely an “act of terrorism.”

The Wednesday attack, was planned and carried out by Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, who had been married two years and had a 6-month-old daughter.

One day after the FBI announcement, an Islamic State online radio broadcast confirmed that Farook and Malik were supporters of the terrorist group.

“Two followers of Islamic State attacked several days ago a center in San Bernardino,” media reports quoted the group from the broadcast. The group did not directly take credit for the attack, but praised Farook and Malik as “martyrs.”

The couple was killed in a gun battle with police roughly seven hours after the initial shooting at the Inland Regional Center, which provides treatment for people with developmental disabilities.

Investigators had been reluctant to classify the shootings as terrorist related because they occurred during a holiday gathering at Farook’s workplace, and there were reports he left amid a dispute with a co-worker before returning with his wife and multiple weapons.

But on Friday, local FBI officials finally made the connection.

“We are now investigating these horrific acts as an act of terrorism,” David Bowdich, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, said at a news conference in San Bernardino.

Bowdich declined to provide specifics, but confirmed he was aware of a Facebook post made by one of the suspects pledging allegiance to the ISIS terrorist group around the time of Wednesday’s shooting.

He said “there’s a number of pieces of evidence that have pushed us off the cliff” to proclaim the investigation to be a terrorism probe.

The FBI was initially in charge of the investigation and officials said federal authorities will continue to work in “lockstep” with local law enforcement on what is expected to be a lengthy probe.   Also on Friday, authorities finally pulled the rented SUV off the street where the couple were killed and into a secured storage area. And, reporters gained access to the Redlands townhouse where the couple lived, assembled bombs in a rear garage and amassed a large cache of weapons and ammunition.   And investigators found evidence the two deleted their social media accounts and destroyed their mobile phones the day before the shootings..   But family members, in various interviews and through a family attorney, said they had not seen any evidence the U.S. born Farook, or his Pakistani wife, had been “radicalized.”

“None of the family members had any idea that this was going to take place,” attorney David Chesley said during a Friday news conference. They were “totally shocked” by what happened.     On Wednesday morning, Farook left the couple’s infant daughter with his mother, claiming he was taking his wife to a doctor’s visit and didn’t want to bring the baby along, according to Hussam Ayloush, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Los Angeles (CAIR-LA) .

Farook was a five-year employee of the San Bernardino County public health agency, which was holding a holiday party when the shooting erupted.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Farook traveled to Saudi Arabia last year and spent nine days there before returning with a new wife he met online.

The Times and other media outlets, citing a senior government official who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Farook was in contact with a number of extremists and at least one person being monitored by federal officials, a Pakistani named Roshan Zamir Abbassi, who is an assistant Imam in San Bernardino, where Farook worshipped.

However, Abassi told The Times he barely knew Farook and only exchanged occasional hellos and goodbyes.

Law enforcement sources told NBC News that Malik pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a statement on Facebook just before she and her husband carried out Wednesday’s rampage. Investigators are reported to be looking into whether the Pakistan-born Malik radicalized her husband.

At a Thursday morning news conference, David Bowdich of the FBI said Malik came to the United States with the U.S-born Farook in July 2014 on a work visa and had a Pakistani passport. The couple married after arriving in the U.S., which enabled her to gain legal permanent resident status last year.

The attack has brought new attention to the previously obscure K1 visa program, which is reserved for the fiances of U.S. citizens. Some advocates for stricter immigration enforcement are calling for investigations into the nation’s visa screening process and for a halt to the nation’s Syrian refugee program.

“New information coming to light regarding Tashfeen Malik’s citizenship reaffirms the fact that proper screening and vetting those coming into our country, whether with a visa or as a refugee, is not always possible,” Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates for stricter immigration laws, said in remarks quoted by The Times.    

The K1 visa permits the foreign-citizen fiance of a U.S. citizen to travel to the U.S. and marry his or her sponsor within 90 days of arrival. It is one of dozens of visas that allow foreigners to enter the U.S.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said K1 applicants, like other visa applicants, undergo an extensive counterterrorism screening that includes checks based on fingerprints and facial recognition software.

Meanwhile, the FBI has established a nationwide toll free line for tips regarding the massacre. It’s (800) CALL-FBI (Option 4) or (800) 225-5324 Option 4.

in News
Related Posts

Edify TV: Trident Center Redevelopment

September 25, 2020

September 25, 2020

The Westside’s Trident Center is getting a major overhaul and new name as part of a flurry of development in...

Miramar Project to go Before City Council Tuesday

September 24, 2020

September 24, 2020

Councilmember Gleam Davis asks City Attorney whether she should rescue self from vote  By Sam Catanzaro  Santa Monica lawmakers will...

SMa.r.t. Column: Needed, A Heart Transplant

September 24, 2020

September 24, 2020

We have written about adaptive reuse in previous columns and have postulated that with proper incentives, the existing one, two...

Edify TV: Boulders Blocking Westside Encampment

September 24, 2020

September 24, 2020

City officials recently removed boulders placed on sidewalks by some Westside residents to prevent the formation of a homeless encampment....

Should Council Member Davis Recuse Herself From Voting? Santa Monica Beat – September, 24, 2020

September 24, 2020

September 24, 2020

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Should Council Member Davis Recuse Herself From Voting? * Increases In...

SMC to Be Online for Winter and Spring 2021

September 24, 2020

September 24, 2020

College cites lack of available vaccine  By Sam Catanzaro Santa Monica College (SMC) has announced it will be delivering classes...

Edify TV: Al Fresco Program Ending?

September 24, 2020

September 24, 2020

During a COVID-19 pandemic many restaurants have found aid through the City of Los Angeles’ Al Fresco dining program, but...

Local Breweries Say They Have Been Unfairly Shuttered as County Passes Grant Program

September 24, 2020

September 24, 2020

$10 million grant program approved by Board of Supervisors  By Sam Catanzaro Will a $10 million grant program be enough...

Santa Monica Loses Vegan Restaurant

September 23, 2020

September 23, 2020

Space housing Santa Monica vegan restaurant Viva Vegan up for lease By Sam Catanzaro A vegan restaurant in Santa Monica...

Risks Posed by Wildfire Smoke

September 22, 2020

September 22, 2020

UCLA pulmonologist on how people can tell if the wildfires are making them sick By Toi Creel Even if you...

Will Los Angeles County See Another Spike in COVID-19 Cases?

September 22, 2020

September 22, 2020

County health officials keeping close eye on data this week By Sam Catanzaro Los Angeles County health officials are monitoring...

Edify TV: Santa Monica Fire Department Fighting Blazes Across State

September 21, 2020

September 21, 2020

The Santa Monica Fire Department has been busy helping combat wildfires burning throughout the state. Learn more in this video...

Lawmakers and Residents Take Steps Towards Police Reform

September 21, 2020

September 21, 2020

Santa Monica residents will soon have more control of policing after local lawmakers took significant steps to reform the Santa...

2020 Census Due September 30th: Santa Monica Beat – September, 21, 2020

September 21, 2020

September 21, 2020

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * 2020 Census Due September 30th * Bobcat Fire Reaches Historical Size...

UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica Offers Free “Living With Diabetes” Zoom Patient Conference

September 21, 2020

September 21, 2020

By Staff Writer Although the novel coronavirus has dominated the health space this year, other diseases — like diabetes —...