I've been hesitant to write further about the San Bernardino shooters, since we're all learning the new details as they dribble out. The story still doesn't make much sense. Were the shooters acting under command or were they on their own? And what was the point
of this outrage? If you decided to give your life for a cause, would you choose an unimportant, low-profile target in a medium-sized city?
Right now, the picture we have of Syed Farook is of a quietly religious
man who was radicalized by his wife, Tashfeen Malik
. Not long before the attack, and perhaps a bit too conveniently, she had left a message on Facebook pledging her allegiance to ISIS leader Al-Baghdadi.
Malik's post was made on an account with a different name, one U.S. official said. The officials did not explain how they knew Malik made the post.
What was the other name?
Given Facebook's ties to the CIA, I am not surprised that she got on the radar after (needlessly) making such an outburst. She must have known that she was inviting scrutiny, so why make that declaration? She risked blowing her cover. For what?
Although the couple destroyed their hard drives, there are indications that their communications, and probably their computers, were already compromised
Authorities told NBC News Thursday that Farook appeared to have been radicalized and had been in touch with people in the Los Angeles area who have expressed jihadi-oriented views. Intelligence sources said he appeared to have been in communication with people overseas who are of interest to U.S. authorities.
This report conflicts with earlier stories which indicated that Farook was completely off the radar.
Judging by the comments evinced by the preceding post, readers are particularly intrigued by the "Tayeep bin Ardogan" mystery. That is the name ascribed to Tashfeen Malik on Twitter and in the earliest reports. The big question: Where did that name come from, and why did she pick a name so similar to that of the leader of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan? There is an interesting discussion of the matter here
I would remind you that she posted to Facebook under a pseudonym. Was "Tayeep bin Ardogan" her Facebook name?
Finally, we should mention the lingering suspicion that a third person played a role. (The "mystery helper" motif often shows up in discussions of mass shootings -- for example, the Columbine tragedy gave rise to many such rumors.) We know that another party
was in fact detained in San Bernardino, although police eventually decided that this person was not involved.
One of my readers, who calls himself Jonathan, offers a first-hand account:
I live about a mile from where the mass shooting was. I know one of the survivors who was shot. I want to make a few observations that I think might indicate more people involved than the two shooters that were shot.
As you saw on TV, the area was crawling with police. I was surprised that they could have so many. What you may have missed was at 2:40pm, there was a bomb threat at the hospital where most of the wounded were at. At around 3:15 there was the shoot out with the SUV. I wonder if the bomb threat was an attempt to create a diversion for the SUV.
Secondly, the SUV was going from Redlands, about 5 miles away, back to an area about 1 mile from the scene of the crime. The shoot out at the SUV occurred in a very interesting location. About one or two small blocks away (less than 1/8 of a mile) is Coulston street. On Coulston street there are apartments, and they are filled with muslims. The area is on a short cut I take to avoid traffic. On a summer evening, you can see lots of women with their headscarves on outside in front of the apartments.
Finally, at about 11:00pm last night, the area was still cordoned off with police checkpoints, and there were about 5 helicopters circling the valley. Even today, there is still a police check point that I saw about 15mins ago (12:30am, 12-4-15) in front of the building where the shooting occurred. I haven't gone back to the neighborhood where the SUV was stopped at.
If I had to guess, I'd say that the SUV was headed towards that muslim neighborhood, but didn't make it. Of course that is speculation. But if I'm right, it tends to show that there are more sympathetic muslims in the area. And the persistent high vigilance of the police in the area led me to believe that they are looking for more suspects, whether shooters or just accomplices.
There has been some local talk that Redlands, where the shooters lived, has been selected as a Syrian refugee relocation center by Homeland Security. Supposedly they made that selection because there is already a large middle east community, which is true. There are a lot of their businesses (mainly restaurants, hookah bars, and markets) around the area. I think right now, there is a lot of knee jerk blame the NRA, but it will be interesting to see if the locals buy that argument. I hope we don't look back on this and see it as part of a new wave of domestic muslim terrorism.
If I know San Bernardino, they are not likely to blame the NRA for anything.