FBI investigating California shooting as act of terrorism

Saturday, Dec 5, 2015,11:35 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Washington | The FBI has announced that it is assuming a leadership role in the investigation into the deadly mass shooting that occurred earlier this week in San Bernardino, California, as an act of terrorism.

14 people were killed and 21 others injured in the mass shooting in which a Pakistani-origin couple is suspected.

“This is now a federal terrorism investigation, led by the FBI,” said Director James Comey, speaking to reporters at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. He was joined by Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Comey said that the investigation so far has developed indications of radicalization by the killers and of the potential inspiration by foreign terrorist organizations.

Comey cautioned that it is early in the investigation, “but so far, there is no indication that these killers are part of an organized larger group.” He added that hundreds of FBI personnel are following leads all over the world. “We are trying to understand the motives of these killers and trying to understand every detail of their lives,” he said.

The FBI is in possession of a large volume of electronic evidence that belonged to the husband and wife shooters, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik. Comey said the couple tried to conceal and destroy electronic evidence before they were killed in a shootout with police Wednesday.

Comey assured the public that the FBI is working as fast as it can to find answers.

David Bowdich, the Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Los Angeles office, told reporters that many questions remain unanswered about the motives of the killers and what contacts they had with other terrorists either domestically or overseas. A determination in this regard has been made given the extensive planning, the high-powered weaponry and the amount of armaments worn by Syed Rizwan Farook and his Pakistani-born wife Tashfeen Malik in carrying out the killing, he said.

The FBI had some communication with extremist elements, and at least one of them was on the US watch list. Farook, 28, and Malik, 27, tried to destroy their digital trail by crushing their cell phones and tossing them into a public trashcan, he said. But the phones have been retrieved and FBI investigators are extracting information from them, Bowdich said. The FBI is not aware of any credible terrorist threat to the US, officials said, with the White House articulating that the administration is fully geared to take all necessary steps to protect the homeland. We are not aware of any further threats in the US at this time, Bowdich said.