Rampage suspect’s travels, contacts probed in search of motive

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SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- Syed Rizwan Farook -- who along with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, carried out the San Bernardino shooting massacre -- traveled to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and apparently was radicalized and in touch with people being investigated by the FBI for international terrorism, law enforcement officials said Thursday.

Farook traveled to Saudi Arabia in the summer of 2014, according to Saudi and U.S. officials. Records show Farook was in the country on that trip for nine days, a Saudi official said. A U.S. official described the 2014 trip as Farook's "last recorded" trip to Saudi Arabia.

Two U.S. government officials have also said there's information about Farook traveling to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj in 2013.

Farook's apparent radicalization contributed to his role in the mass shooting of 14 people Wednesday during a holiday party for the San Bernardino County health department, where Farook worked, sources said.

Still, it wasn't necessarily the only driver behind the carnage, as workplace grievances might have also played a role. President Barack Obama hinted as much Thursday when he said that the attackers may have had "mixed motives."

David Bowditch, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles office, told reporters Thursday that Farook had traveled to Pakistan.

And two government officials said no red flags were raised when he'd gone to Saudi Arabia for several weeks in 2013 on the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims are required to take at least once in their lifetime. It was during this trip that he met Malik, a native of Pakistan who came to the United States in July 2014 on a "fiancée visa" and later became a lawful permanent resident.

Officials had previously said neither Farook and Malik were known to the FBI or on a list of potentially radicalized people. Nor had they had any known interactions with police until Wednesday.

Yet Farook himself had talked by phone and on social media with more than one person being investigated for terrorism, law enforcement officials said.

The communications were "soft connections" in that they weren't frequent, one law enforcement official said. It had been a few months since Farook's last back-and-forth with these people, who officials said were not considered high priority.

As to what role those communications played in the San Bernardino carnage, the official said, “We don’t know yet what they mean.”

Added Bowdich, from the FBI: “That is the big question for us: What is the motivation for this?”

6 comments

  • Don

    THEY”RE HERE!!!!
    I guess Obama can put his “Islam is the religion of peace” right up there with “If you like your doctor, you can keep him”
    Islam is not a religion, it is a cult, bent on destroying ALL of Christianity.. Does anyone think he will EVER accept that reality?? IF he can read, maybe he should try reading the Koran.IF not, maybe someone can read it to him.

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  • Obama is out of touch wth reality!

    My heart and prayers for comfort goes out to the victims and families. My disappointment is directed at the President for his continued denial of facts and desire to pack as many future terrorists into America as possible. Additional disappointment includes repeated calls for MORE gun control! How stupid does he think we are? We are already sitting ducks why on earth would we want to voluntarily let a bunch of idiots take our ability to defend our families, friends and selves? GUN LAWS only HELP THE CRIMINALS who do not follow the laws. STAY PRO CHOICE! Email your assembly member and tell them how important it is for you to keep your choice on how to defend you family!

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