- The Washington Times - Friday, December 4, 2015

Reports that the female attacker in the California mass shooting pledged her allegiance to the Islamic State are surfacing just two days after President Obama said he believed the U.S. was safe from a Paris-style attack from the extremist group.

“ISIL will not pose an existential threat to us,” Mr. Obama told CBS News, using an acronym for the group. “They are a dangerous organization like al Qaeda was, but we have hardened our defenses. The American people should feel confident that, you know, we are going to be able to defend ourselves and make sure that, you know, we have a good holiday and go about our lives.”

His comments were recorded Wednesday, as details were coming out about the shooting in San Bernadino, California, that left 14 people dead and 21 wounded.

Reports surfaced Friday that the female attacker, Tashfeen Malik, pledged her allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdad on Facebook during the mass shooting. U.S. officials told CNN that she posted her declaration on an account under a different name.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest wouldn’t address the specific report about Malik on Friday, but said it’s well known that so-called “lone wolf” attacks are difficult for law enforcement agencies to disrupt. He said nevertheless that U.S. authorities have a “good” record in foiling such plots.

Asked if the San Bernadino attack amounts to a failure of U.S. intelligence efforts, Mr. Earnest replied, “It’s far too early to reach that kind of conclusion.”

“The American people can continue to be confident … that those who are charged with protecting the homeland take very seriously the responsibilities they have,” he said.

Mr. Earnest said the president received another briefing Friday morning about the attack.

Investigators are said to be working on the theory that Malik was inspired by the Islamic State and self-radicalized, rather than taking direct orders from the extremist group.

The president said Thursday that the FBI is exploring whether the attack was an act of terrorism or workplace violence. Malik’s Muslim husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, a U.S. citizen, worked at the government agency where the shooting took place.

Both suspects were killed hours later in a shootout with police.

Since the Islamic State attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 that killed 120 people, Mr. Obama has been continuously assuring Americans that the government is doing everything it can to protect them from a similar attack. On the day before Thanksgiving, he said U.S. intelligence officials had no “specific, credible threat” against the homeland.

“I know that Americans have been asking each other whether it’s safe here,” Mr. Obama said at the time. “And it’s understandable that people worry something similar could happen here. Watching the events in Paris made the threat feel closer to home. We continue to do everything possible to prevent attacks at home and abroad, and to prevent foreign terrorist fighters from entering the United States or other nations.”

Rep. Candice Miller, Michigan Republican and vice chair of the House Homeland Security committee, said in remarks for the weekly GOP address that terrorist groups like the Islamic State “are looking for any and every opportunity to exploit a nation’s hospitality to carry out their barbaric attacks against the innocent.” Her comments are aimed at promoting a bill to strengthen security in a program that allows visitors from 38 countries to enter the U.S. without a visa.

Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican and a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said the administration is falling behind in the fight.

“Washington must wake up to this fact: the crowd-sourcing of domestic terror is a reality,” he said. “While slow-moving, federal bureaucracies look for card-carrying terrorists, the Islamic State and al Qaeda are crowd-sourcing their jihad. We must adapt and develop a long-term strategy to name and defeat our enemy. That enemy is not the empty label ‘extremism’ but the ideology of militant Islam.”

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