Step by step, US federal agencies are being forced to admit that Wednesday, Dec. 2, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik perpetrated the first Islamic State terror attack in America. They shot 14 people dead and injured 21 at the San Bernardino social center in California, before dying themselves in a shootout with the police.
Straight after the attack, on Dec. 3, when the two shooters were still unidentified and on the run, debkafile’s counterterrorism sources inferred from the comment by an anonymous federal officer that “one of the shooters is an American citizen whose identity is known” that US intelligence had been onto Farook.
Another comment made at the time – “Links to international terrorism are still on the table as the assailants could have been encouraged by a foreign terror group,” also betrayed official knowledge of the suspects’ background and motives.
However, it was only on Friday, Dec. 4, that a number of “revelations” came spilling out.
David Bowdich, Assistant Director of the FBI Los Angeles field office, confirmed for the first time that the bureau was investigating the San Bernardino attack as an “act of terrorism.”
Tashfeen Malik using an alias was also found to have pledged loyalty to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi on Facebook.
It was not disclosed how she came to be identified by the investigators. debkafile’s intelligence sources report that the use of a false name for messages on the social media may fool the regular user, but not intelligence and anti-terrorist agencies, which are able to uncover a real identity in no time.
Phone calls from a blocked number are traced with equal ease. The couple was reported to have tried to destroy the phones and hard drives of their computers, indicating they knew that they were “blown.”
The “revelation” by the FBI of Malik’s pledge to the ISIS leader by Facebook was in fact a bit of misdirection to conceal the fact that her husband and partner Farook had been on the radar of US anti-terror agencies before their murderous rampage at San Bernadino, and not just after the fact through his “soft connections.”
Another comment by an FBI official was also indicative.
He said: “investigators are exploring Farook’s communications with at least one person who was being investigated for possible terror connections… Some were by phone, some on social media.”
How and when were those communications discovered? And who is this person? The only answer given to those questions from reporters was that this individual is in America.
It stands to reason that the reference is to a secret terrorist cell operating in America whose leader was most likely Farouk’s controller. His communications would have marked him for inclusion on the list of Americans with known terrorist contacts – not just the wider circle of suspects, but the short list of activists placed under 24/7 watch as a preventive measure.
The most suggestive comment by the FBI official Friday night was this: “Farouk’s last communications with the contacts was months ago.”
This comment may be interpreted in three ways:
1. The intelligence watch over his movements was discontinued during the months that the shooter was not in communication with his “terrorist contact.”
2. Farouk and Malik used those months of freedom from surveillance to amass a war arsenal of guns, rifles, tens of thousands of rounds of ammo, at least 15 pipe bombs and materials for building additional devices including road bombs.
3. This was not discovered because it did not occur to the counter-terror agencies that Farouk and his presumed controller had decided to break off contact in the months leading up to the attack in order to lower Farouk’s profile and catch the surveillance off guard.