California shooting linked to IS and Al-Qaeda: US Think Tank, news agency

Saturday, Dec 5, 2015,10:11 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Washington | The deadly California shooting that killed 14 was a terrorist attack conducted by perpetrators inspired by the Islamic State and possibly linked to Al-Qaeda, according to a top American think tank known for its expertise on terrorists organisations.

A similar claim was made by a pro-IS Arabic-language news agency late Friday.

Individuals inspired by the Islamic State (IS) and with links to Al-Qaeda conducted the terrorist attack in San Bernardino on December 2, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in a op-ed. This attack was the first Al-Qaeda or ISIS related in the US by a skilled shooter team using both guns and explosives, a technique that both groups used in the Mumbai attacks of November 2008, the Westgate Mall attack in Kenya in September 2013 and the attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine in January 2015 and on several targets in Paris on November 13, it said. It marks a step-change in the threat that both al Qaeda and IS pose to the security of the American homeland, said the institute in its analysis of the San Bernardino shooting.

The FBI had yesterday said it is investigating the mass shooting as an act of terrorism. The attack displays some of the sophistication and signatures of past Al-Qaeda attacks, ISW wrote. FBI has named two suspects — Tashfeen Malik, mother of a six-month old baby, along with her husband, Chicago-born Syed Rizwan Farook, 28. Both were killed on the same day by the police in an exchange of fire. Drawing a sharp dividing line between Al-Qaeda and IS threat groups when it comes to attacks on the homeland is difficult despite differences between them in the Middle East. The US must expect that both groups will devote even greater resources to encouraging and supporting such attacks here and in Europe now that their feasibility has been demonstrated in both regions, it said. American and Western efforts against Al-Qaeda and IS globally are failing and require fundamental reassessment, according to the think tank. ISW said this attack seems likely to be the result of cultivation, inspiration, and possibly planning initially begun by Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups or individuals, and then either coopted by or simply dedicated to IS. Farook’s travels and itinerary suggest that the start of his radicalisation may have predated the re-emergence of IS as a major player in June 2014.

Meanwhile, pro-IS Arabic-language news agency Aamaq said in a statement Friday that two sympathizers of the Islamic State carried out the San Bernardino attack. Aamaq is active in IS-run territories but is not considered to be the jihadist group’s mouthpiece and does not claim attacks on its behalf.

Aamaq did not say what the motive behind the attack was. US media, quoting law enforcement officials, have said that while there was no evidence IS directed Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik to carry out the attack on a party held by Farook’s employer, it appears the pair were inspired by the group. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation said Friday the shooting is now being investigated as an act of terrorism.