Agencies – A woman accused of joining her husband in killing 14 people in California apparently pledged allegiance to Daesh leader, two US government sources said on Friday, as intelligence officials in her native Pakistan pressed the investigation overseas.
Tashfeen Malik, 27, and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, were killed in a shootout with police hours after the Wednesday massacre in San Bernardino, 100 km east of Los Angeles.
US investigators are evaluating evidence that Malik, a Pakistani native who had been living in Saudi Arabia when she married Farook, had pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, two US officials said.
Pakistani intelligence officials have contacted Malik’s family in her homeland as part of the investigation, a family member said.
“I only found out about this tragedy today when some intelligence officials contacted me to ask me about my links with Tashfeen,” Malik’s uncle, Javed Rabbani, said. “I had heard in the news that this tragedy had taken place but I could never even imagine that it would be someone from my family. Of course, we are in shock.”
Tashfeen Malik had moved back to Pakistan five or six years ago to study pharmacy, Pakistani officials said.
Before going on their rampage, Malik and Farook had destroyed computer hard drives and other electronics, a US government source said.
Muslim Americans fear their religion will be demonized and Islamophobia will spread after the mass killings. Across the country, Muslim Americans responded with shock and outrage after the shooting.
“While the shooting was taking place and all the TVs were showing that footage and all I could keep thinking to myself is ‘God, I hope they don’t have any Eastern descent, not just Middle Eastern, anything we’d associate with a Muslim’,” said Adam Hashem, 32, in Dearborn, a Detroit suburb with one of the country’s largest Muslim populations. “We’re all worried. We’re all concerned,” he said.
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Attari Supermarket bustled on Thursday with customers shopping for Middle Eastern products.
“In every culture and in every religion there are bad apples that will spoil the rest of the apples. That has happened to us,” said Dawod, a 25-year-old Muslim American, who manages the store that his family has owned for a decade. Dawod said he was concerned that politicians will use the mass shooting as a way to further demonize Muslims.
He noted Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s endorsement of the idea of creating a Muslim database. “It’s scary,” he said. “Ninety-nine percent of Muslims are hardworking, good people.”
Muslim community groups condemned the massacre and urged the public not to blame Islam or Muslims.
“The Muslim community stands shoulder to shoulder with our fellow Americans in repudiating any twisted mindset that would claim to justify such sickening acts of violence,” said Hussam Ayloush, an executive director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Some Muslims questioned whether this week’s shooting will embolden supporters of Trump.
Faizul Khan, 74, an Imam at the Islamic Society of the Washington Area, said he was “horrified” by the shooting. “Unfortunately people don’t understand that we as Muslims want to promote what is good and just for the entire humanity.”
He said he feared the shooting would strengthen calls to increase surveillance on mosques.
Jersey City real-estate agent Magdy Ali, 52 and of Egyptian descent, said he uses the name Alex when working to avoid conflict with people who distrust Islam.
Meanwhile, Facebook has removed Tashfeen Malik’s profile for violating its standards and is cooperating with law enforcement agencies, said a CNBC Tweet.