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FBI Director: San Bernardino Shooters Did Not Post Public Support For Radical Islam

FBI Director James Comey says the San Bernardino shooters did not post public support for radical Islam.

GettyImages-501586758
GettyImages-501586758

The San Bernardino shooters did not post public support for radical Islam on social media, FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday, in an apparent effort to defend law enforcement officials against accusations they missed signs that could have prevented the deadly Dec. 2 attack.

Speaking alongside New York Police Chief Bill Bratton, a day after hoax threats against schools in New York and Los Angeles, Comey said Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik never indicated they were radicalized on anything that could be publicly viewed. Instead, Comey said they were communicating by "direct, private messages” not being tracked by law enforcement.

"We have found no evidence of a posting on social media by either of them, at that period of time or thereafter, reflecting their commitment to jihad or to martyrdom," Comey said. He described as “garble” earlier reports the government had missed readily-available signs of jihad on Malik’s social media accounts.

The San Bernardino shooters did not post public support for radical Islam on social media, FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday, in an apparent effort to defend law enforcement officials against accusations they missed signs that could have prevented the deadly Dec. 2 attack.

Speaking alongside New York Police Chief Bill Bratton, a day after hoax threats against schools in New York and Los Angeles, Comey said Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik never indicated they were radicalized on anything that could be publicly viewed. Instead, Comey said they were communicating by “direct, private messages” not being tracked by law enforcement.

“We have found no evidence of a posting on social media by either of them, at that period of time or thereafter, reflecting their commitment to jihad or to martyrdom,” Comey said. He described as “garble” earlier reports the government had missed readily-available signs of jihad on Malik’s social media accounts.

Malik, born in Pakistan, was in 2014 issued a so-called fiancee visa, which allows foreigners who intend to marry American citizens to enter the United States. Farook was a U.S. citizen. Both were killed in a shootout with police shortly after they stormed a county government holiday party in San Bernardino, killing 14.

The FBI and the Homeland Security Department have been under fire in recent days for allowing Malik to come to the United States, putting President Barack Obama’s administration on the defensive after news reports surfaced about her radical social media posts.

Earlier this week, State Department spokesman John Kirby acknowledged “it’s difficult to say” what went wrong — and how — among U.S. security agencies that screen visa applications for signs of threats. But “obviously, I think it’s safe to say there’s going to be lessons learned here,” Kirby said.

On Wednesday, Comey also repeated there is no indication the couple was directly connected to an extremist group. He said the husband and wife had expressed support for “jihad and martyrdom” in private online messages. 

Also on Wednesday, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said the president would privately visit with the families of the San Bernardino victims on Friday.

Photo Credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

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