While the FBI may have appeared to have dropped the ball in a big way on the Farook/Malik terror attack, they are certainly trying not to make the same mistake again. And remember how the family said they knew nothing about the guns/bombs/terror plans of Farook and Malik. Well, maybe that’s not turning out to be quite the truth. It seems that daddy Farook has spent a lot of time in Pakistan as well.
Read what ABC news has uncovered. The new image of the couple comes as counter-terrorism officials in Los Angeles are letting out a collective sigh of relief after bracing for a possible terrorist incident there Sunday, based on warnings from an Iraqi intelligence report. The warning, described as a “Level 1 Alert,” gave a date of the would-be attack as Sunday but was not specific about a location beyond naming Los Angeles, according to two U.S. officials who were briefed on the threat. Though such warnings are common, this one was especially worrisome in the aftermath of the San Bernardino massacre and because the Iraqi government claimed it had offered a similar warning about an attack in Paris just a day before gunmen killed 130 people there.
Over the weekend authorities raided the Riverside, California home of Enrique Marquez, an old neighbor of Farook who three law enforcement officials told ABC News had purchased the two “assault-style” weapons used in the San Bernardino attack. Marquez bought the weapons in late 2011 and early 2012, one of the officials said, and the Director of the FBI, James Comey, said Friday that Marquez, who was not publicly identified at the time, was “not a suspect, at least at this point.” It also emerged this weekend that during a raid of Farook and Malik’s home, the FBI removed a number of items including “Christmas lights” — a potential component for certain explosive devices as described in an al Qaeda magazine. After the couple was killed last week, police said they discovered a dozen explosive devices the two had apparently constructed.
Caught up in the investigation’s widening net as well is the Farook’s 66-year-old father, also named Syed Farook, who has been placed on a federal terrorist watch list, according to an official with direct knowledge of the case. The official told ABC News authorities are investigating the elder Farook’s multiple trips to his native Pakistan, including lengthy trips this year and last year.
“The FBI has identified him [the younger Farook] as a known terrorist,” the official said. “He’s dead. But he is now known as a terrorist. His father is an immediate family member who spent extended periods of time in Pakistan. He’s watch listed.”
A former senior counter-terrorism official said that family members of identified terrorists are often added to the Terrorist Identifier Datamart Environment (TIDE) as a precaution during the course of an investigation.
The official close to the case said that the elder Farook came to the U.S. in 1972 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1999.
The elder Farook reportedly spoke to an Italian newspaper over the weekend and said that his son was fascinated by the Syria-based terror group ISIS and hated Israel. Other members of Farook’s family downplayed his purported comments, telling ABC News he is “not stable” and “not handling this well.” A spokesperson for the Muslim rights organization CAIR said the father did not recall talking to the Italian newspaper.
One question authorities are still trying to answer is who in the killer couple inspired who, with investigators increasingly leaning towards Malik as the plot’s “mastermind.” Late Friday U.S. officials told ABC News and other outlets that Malik, using an alias, had published a pledge of allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Facebook right around the time of the attack last Wednesday.
Publicly, FBI Assistant Director in Los Angeles David Bowdich said today it is still unclear who in the couple radicalized the other, but said investigators have learned they both were radicalized “for quite some time.”
Nada Bakos, a former CIA officer who worked on al Qaeda in Iraq, ISIS’s precursor organization, said she wouldn’t be surprised if Malik played more of a prominent role.
“Men don’t have a monopoly on terrorism or conducting violent acts,” she said. “At this point, in the evolution of terrorism, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a woman take an operational role.”
Two attorneys representing Farook’s family have cast doubt on the ISIS connection, and the family members said they never saw anything extreme in Farook or his new wife.