What We Know About Tashfeen Malik, the Female San Bernardino Shooter

December 4th 2015

More details are emerging about Tashfeen Malik, who with her husband, Syed Farook, opened fire on an office party this week in San Bernardino, California, killing more than a dozen people and wounding 21 others. The FBI on Friday said the case was being investigated as an "act of terror."

The trickle of info helps sketch an outline of a college-educated woman without any known strong religious or political ties, according to an ABC News report.

Related: Here are the victims of the San Bernardino attack

The details follow reports by U.S. intelligence officials and Facebook executives that Malik, a 27-year-old Pakistani woman in the U.S. on a special visa, had posted a message of allegiance to the leader of the self-proclaimed Islamic State during the attack, on Wednesday. She was believed to have used an alias online, but the posts were subsequently deleted by the social media site.

According to the ABC News report, which cites anonymous Saudi Arabian and Pakistani government officials, Malik had likely lived between her home country and the Gulf kingdom for the better part of 25 years before returning to Pakistan in 2007 to study at Bahuddin Zakri University, in Multan. A source described her as a brilliant student.


An attorney for the family of her husband and accomplice, Syed Farook, said the two met on a dating site and possibly met in person during a trip Farook made to Saudi Arabia in 2013. A year later, the two were married in California, where Malik lived on what's sometimes called a "fiancé" visa, allowing for a spouse to petition to have a partner enter the country before any marriage. On that visa application, according to ABC News, Malik's listed hometown in Pakistan does not exist, and she had received a Green Card this summer, a U.S. official told ABC.

While the new details paint a more complete picture of the attacker, how she and her husband came to become allegedly radicalized—posting pledges of support to Islamic State leaders online, for example—remained a mystery.

At a press conference on Friday, a regional FBI official did not disclose what evidence led the agency to classify their investigation as relating to terrorism.

Also: Hackers used Viagra to brilliantly troll ISIS

"As of today, based on the information and the facts as we know them, we are now investigating these horrific acts as an act of terrorism," said David Bowdich, assistant director of the FBI's Los Angeles office. Bowdich added that "there's a number of pieces of evidence that has pushed us off the cliff."

The announcement broadens the implications of Wednesday's shooting, which left 14 dead and 21 others injured, and adds weight to reports of Malik's alleged social media posts.

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