- The Washington Times - Friday, December 4, 2015

The Muslim couple behind the San Bernardino, California, shooting spree — now the deadliest act of terrorism on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001 — showed signs of “radicalization” but have not as of yet been linked to any known terrorist group or cell, the head of the FBI said Friday.

Wednesday’s mass shooting, which killed 14 and injured 21, was officially classified Friday as a terrorist act but officials cautioned that they are still working to sift through communications from the two deceased suspects to determine what motivated their actions.

“The investigation so far has developed indications of radicalization by the killers and of potential inspiration by foreign terrorist organizations,” said FBI Director James Comey. “There’s no indication that they are part of a network.”

But he cautioned that as investigators are trying to piece together evidence, such as electronic communications and data from two cell phones that the shooters smashed and tossed in a trash can, much remains unknown.

Mr. Comey also said that nothing Syed Rizwan Farook and his Pakistani-born wife Tashfeen Malik had done ahead of the mass shooting had raised the profile of the couple enough to have put them on the FBI’s radar. He underscored that contacts that the couple had with individuals who were subjects of prior FBI investigations had not been of great enough significance to have triggered any investigation of the pair.

Law enforcement sources told The Washington Times that investigators had been able to determine that Farook had communication with six people who were previously investigated by federal authorities, including four individuals in the Los Angeles area.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday that Farook had prior contact with people from at least two overseas terror organizations “including the Nusra Front in Syria and Shabab in Somalia.”

Sources told The Times that authorities had interviewed the four people in the Los Angeles area since the shooting spree took place and that “nothing fruitful” had resulted from those conversations.

Mr. Comey declined to provide further context of the nature of either the FBI’s investigations of those individuals or the communications that the suspects had with those people.

“There were no contacts between either of the killers and subjects of our investigation that were of such significance that it raised these killers up onto our radar screen,” Mr. Comey said. “We are obviously looking very closely at those contacts but I would not want you to over-index on that just yet.”

“It is 48 hours old,” Mr. Comey said of the agency’s investigation into Malik and Farook. “There is much about of this that does make sense for even those of us who do this for a living.”

While authorities have said that there was evidence of preplanning of the massacre, in which the couple stormed a holiday party held by a government department for which Farook worked and sprayed the room with bullets, Mr. Comey declined to give any indication as to how long investigators believe the plan was in the works.

He added that authorities believe they are in possession of all electronic devices that the couple may have used to communicate or discuss their plans and are thoroughly reviewing all retrievable data.

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