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FBI Says San Bernardino Suspects Did Not Post Islamic Jihad Pledge on Social Media

FBI Director James Comey appeared to refute a report that said that Tashfeen Malik had pledged her support for Islamic jihad on Facebook messages and saying she hoped to join the fight one day.

At a press conference in New York on Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey said that no evidence had been found to indicate that the couple who massacred 14 people in San Bernardino, California, on December 2 were members of a terrorist cell or had any contact with overseas militant groups. Most notably, he said that Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his 29-year-old wife, Tashfeen Malik, had expressed support for “jihad and martyrdom” in private communications but never did so on social media.

JamesComey

“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. I’ve seen some reporting on that. That’s a garble. Alright?”

The statement appeared to contradict a report that appeared in the Los Angeles Times citing two unnamed federal law enforcement officials who said that Malik “sent at least two private messages on Facebook to a small group of Pakistani friends in 2012 and 2014, pledging her support for Islamic jihad and saying she hoped to join the fight one day.” The messages were reportedly written in Urudu, a common language in Pakistan. One of the officials was quoted as saying the messages were “her private communications.”

“The investigation continues, but we have not found that kind of thing. These communications are private, direct messages, not social media messages.”

— FBI Director James Comey

“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. “I’ve seen some reporting on that. That’s a garble. Alright? The investigation continues, but we have not found that kind of thing. These communications are private, direct messages, not social media messages.”

[Read the full story here, at VICE News]

It remains unclear whether Malik had declared loyalty to the Islamic State on Facebook on the morning that she and Farook killed 14 people who were attending an employee holiday party at a state-run facility for individuals with developmental disabilities.

A report first appeared on CNN and later circulated elsewhere citing unnamed US officials who said that Malik had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State using a Facebook account that was registered under a different name. The sources did not say how they knew for certain that Malik made the post.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed that the post was made around the time of the mass shooting. A source close to the investigation told Wired that the pledge was posted at 11:15am on Wednesday, just minutes after the first shots were fired, on an account belonging to Larki Zaat — a name that was presumed to be an alias of Malik.

Comments made by David Bowdich, the assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles office, following the attack appeared to lend credence to this account.

“I know it was in a general timeline where that post was made, and yes, there was a pledge of allegiance,” Bowdich told a news conference on December, though it was uncertain whether the comments were posted by Malik herself or someone else who had access to the Facebook account…(read more)

Source: VICE News

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