The Slatest

San Bernardino Attack Believed to Be “Act of Terrorism,” FBI Says

Law enforcement officials at the scene of a police shootout between San Bernardino massacre perpetrators Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Update, 3:50 p.m.: The FBI is officially treating the San Bernardino massacre “as an act of terrorism,” it announced at a news conference, which means the federal government will lead the investigation into it. Though a Facebook post made by Tashfeen Malik on the day of the shooting seems to indicate that she and her husband were inspired by ISIS, there is no known evidence as of yet that the attack was actually coordinated with the group’s operatives.


Update, 10:40 a.m.: Tashfeen Malik pledged “allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi” on Facebook at some point on Wednesday, CNN reports. “The posting was by Malik made on an account with a different name, according to one U.S. official,” the network says. “The officials did not explain how they knew Malik made the post.”


Original post, 9:48 a.m.: Here’s the latest news from the investigation into the Wednesday massacre in San Bernardino, California, committed by Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik.

  • More details released by authorities indicate that Farook and Malik had prepared carefully for the attack in the days and hours leading up to it. CNN reports that the hard drive is missing from a computer at the couple’s home, while cellphones that they owned had been smashed. Citing the FBI, the New York Times writes that Farook “began deleting data” from electronic devices “at least a day before the attacks.”
  • The specific inspiration for the attack is nonetheless still not yet known. While it was reported Thursday by CNN that Farook had been in contact with more than one person suspected of terror-related activity by U.S. authorities, the network says there is no evidence that those contacts were directly related to Wednesday’s events: ” ‘These appear to be soft connections,’ an official said, meaning they were not frequent contacts. Farook’s last communication with the contacts was months ago.” Multiple outlets interviewed individuals who knew Farook, including some at the mosque he attended; none were aware that he had any history of behaving violently or using extreme rhetoric.
  • Farook’s mother said in divorce papers that his father was a violent alcoholic, the AP reports: “Farook’s mother alleged in 2006 that her husband, also named Syed, attacked her while her children were present, dropped a TV on her and pushed her toward a car, according to divorce records.” The divorce became final this year.

Farook and Malik were married in 2014; she originally entered the United States from Pakistan using a K-1 visa for fiancées and was subsequently given a conditional green card.

Read more of Slate’s coverage of the San Bernardino, California, shooting.