The Slatest

FBI Says San Bernardino Jihad Messages Were DMs, Not Posts

Weapons at the scene of the shootout between police and the perpetrators of the San Bernardino, California, massacre on Dec. 4, 2015.

Photo by San Bernardino County Sherrif’s Department via Getty Images

On Dec. 12, the New York Times reported that San Bernardino, California, shooter Tasfheen Malik talked “openly on social media about her views on violent jihad” before being approved for visa entry into the United States. That would be a very big screw-up by the U.S., right? “Had the authorities found the posts years ago, they might have kept her out of the country,” the paper wrote.

Well, on Monday new reports said that Malik’s posts were “made under a pseudonym and with strict privacy settings that did not allow people outside a small group of friends to see them.” And Wednesday, the director of the FBI said the jihadist sentiments in question were actually conveyed in “private direct messages”—in other words, that Malik’s views weren’t discussed openly at all and would not have been caught by any review process. From the Washington Post:

The husband-and-wife duo were “showing signs in their communication of their joint commitment to jihad and to martyrdom” through private messages, rather than publicly visible postings, [FBI Director James] Comey said.

“Those communications are direct, private messages,” Comey said during a news conference here. “So far, in this investigation we have found no evidence of posting on social media by either of them at that period in time and thereafter reflecting their commitment to jihad or to martyrdom. I’ve seen some reporting on that, and that’s a garble.”

A garble! Is the New York Times garblin’ on us?

One earlier report that does seem to be true, per the Post, is that Malik posted a “pledge of allegiance” to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Facebook “shortly after opening fire in San Bernardino.”