LOS ANGELES – David Bowdich, assistant director of the FBI‘s Los Angeles field office, told reporters on Monday that the San Bernardino shooters, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, had been radicalized for some time. Even though the details are not yet completely clear, new hints about their hateful background came to light over the weekend, after the FBI announced on Friday they were treating the case as a terrorist attack and ISIS confirmed on Saturday that the couple were ‘supporters’ of them.

To date, there is no evidence that Farook and his wife Malik were part of a former terrorist group, which gives the authorities no other option but to believe they were acting on their own after years embracing radical ideologies. This confirms what President Barack Obama said on Sunday: terrorism strategies are evolving and actions must be taken to prevent hateful ideologies from influencing people.

The FBI announces they will be investigating the deadly shootings in San Bernardino, California, as an “act of terrorism” based on evidence they recovered. Credit: CNN

Farook’s father told La Stampa newspaper that his son was strongly attached to ISIS’ ideology of establishing an Islamic caliphate, CNN reported on Monday. Also named Syed Farook, he admitted that his son had often expressed he was fascinated by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s idea of creating an Islamic State. Moreover, the father told the Italian newspaper he had been angry the first time he saw his son with a gun, but that the guy didn’t care. “I cannot forgive myself. Maybe if I had been at home, I would have found out and stopped him,” he said.

As for Malik’s background, The Times reported on Sunday that she had attended a fundamentalist school in Pakistan in 2013. Farhat Hashmi, director of Al Huda in Multan confirmed on Monday that Malik was enrolled in a two-year course in religious studies but stopped attending classes after a couple of months.

Al Huda is a 70-location network of religious schools that aims to educate upper-middle class Pakistani women in strongly conservative currents of Islam. While Hasmi remarks that her school only focuses on teachings of the prophet Muhammad and the Koran, experts warn that Al Huda seminaries encourage students to reject the Western culture and prevents them from tolerating non-believers.

The school’s administrator affirmed that every student is entirely responsibly for those violent actions they commit led by their personal thinking. However, in spite of the fact that Al Huda doesn’t teach violence directly, it does promote the idea that Muslims are the world’s victims because the attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan have helped raise global Islamophobia, according to Rubina Saigol, a researcher based in Lahore who has studied the women’s seminaries at Al Huda. She added that the leading message is that the United States is the actual source of the conflict and explained that the material and methods result very attractive to women because the environment makes them feel they belong.

Sadaf Ahmad, anthropology professor at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, clarified that Hashmi’s unique interpretation of Islam puts non-believers in a lower level and that kind of thinking could potentially cause dangerous and harmful attitudes towards the rest of the people who don’t share the same point of view.

As the investigation moves forward, authorities in Pakistan and in the U.S. are trying to find out more details of the extremist couple. “Right now, we’re looking at these two individuals,” said Bowdich, “and we are beginning to focus, to build it out from there.”

Farook and his wife Malik died in a police shootout last Wednesday, December 2, after they killed 14 co-workers during a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center. Officials reported they found about 12 pipe bombs, as well as a great amount of ammunition in their apartment.

Source: Los Angeles Times