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Woman in deadly California rampage had become more devout

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Hifza Batool, a relative of Tashfeen Malik, talks to The Associated Press at her home in the town of Karor Lal Esam, about 280 miles southwest of Islamabad, Pakistan today. Batool told The AP on Saturday that other relatives have said that Malik, who was her step-niece, used to wear Western clothes but began wearing the hijab head covering or the all-covering burqa donned by the most conservative Muslim women about three years ago.

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People walk through an alley in Karor Lal Esam, the hometown of California’s female shooter Tashfeen Malik, about 280 miles southwest of Islamabad, Pakistan today.

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. » A change came over Tashfeen Malik two or three years ago.

She started dressing more conservatively, wearing a scarf that covered nearly all her face, and became more fervent in her Muslim faith, according to some who knew her in Pakistan.

But her path from there to the bloody events of this past week — when she and her husband slaughtered 14 people in a commando-style shooting rampage — remains a mystery.

FBI officials, family lawyers and others said they know little about the 29-year-old housewife and mother, apart from what came to light on Friday: that Malik had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group on Facebook as she and her American-born husband, Syed Farook, 28, went on their rampage.

The turn in the investigation raised a host of questions, among them:

— If the couple was radicalized, when, where and how did it happen? Were they influenced by Islamist material online or direct contact with extremists?

— If it happened before Malik came to the U.S., did counterterrorism authorities miss any warning signs when they investigated her before approving her visa?

— Which of them was the driving force in the attack?

“Malik seems to be a very nebulous figure,” said Natana DeLong-Bas, an assistant professor of theology at Boston College. She said the case should cause people to rethink some of their assumptions about extremism.

“We always seem to assume only a man would be capable of making a terrorist attack,” DeLong-Bas said. “Because we know so little about Tashfeen Malik, it’s possible she might have been the main organizer in this event and talked her husband into doing it.”

Husband and wife were killed in a furious shootout with police hours after they armed themselves with assault rifles and opened fire on a gathering of Farook’s colleagues from the San Bernardino County health department, where he worked as a restaurant inspector. The FBI said it is investigating the rampage as a terrorist attack.

President Barack Obama plans to deliver a prime-time address to the nation Sunday night on the attack and the government’s efforts to keep the nation safe.

Hundreds of FBI employees, meanwhile, are working the case, interviewing people, gleaning information off the Internet, conducting searches and analyzing evidence, bureau spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.

Early Saturday, authorities with guns drawn raided a home next door to the house where Farook’s family used to live in Riverside, California, breaking windows and using a cutting torch to get into the garage, neighbors said.

The FBI would not say what it was looking for, but a neighbor said an old friend of Farook’s lives there. More than three years ago, that person bought the two assault rifles later used in the shooting, but authorities haven’t been able to talk to him because he checked himself into a mental hospital after the attack, said a law enforcement official who was not allowed to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The FBI has said the man is not a suspect in shootings, though they want to question him.

U.S. officials said that Farook been in contact with extremists via social media, but one official said those contacts were not recent and did not involve any significant players on the FBI’s radar.

FBI Director James Comey said Friday there was no indication so far that the couple was part of a larger cell or was directed by a foreign terror organization.

Farook was born in Chicago to Pakistani parents and raised in Southern California. Malik arrived in the U.S. in 2014 on a Pakistani passport and a fiancee visa but had spent extended periods of time in Saudi Arabia.

She started studying pharmacy at Bahauddin Zakariya University in the Pakistani city of Multan in 2012.

A maid who worked in the Multan home where Malik lived said that Malik initially wore a scarf that covered her head but not her face. A year before she got married, she began wearing a scarf that covered all but her nose and eyes, the maid said. The maid spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of jeopardizing her employment with the family.

A relative of Malik’s in Pakistan, Hifza Batool, reported hearing similar things from other family members about Malik, her step-niece.

“I recently heard it from relatives that she has become a religious person and she often tells people to live according to the teachings of Islam,” said Batool, a teacher who lives in Karor Lal Esan, about 280 miles southwest of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.

The Farook family attorneys, David Chesley and Mohammad Abuershaid, said none of his relatives had any indication either Farook or his wife held extremist views. The lawyers described Malik as “just a housewife” and cautioned against rushing to judgment.


Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Zarar Khan in Islamabad, Pakistan; Asim Tanveer in Karor Lal Esan, Pakistan; and Amy Taxin in Los Angeles.

16 responses to “Woman in deadly California rampage had become more devout”

  1. livinginhawaii says:

    I think its terrible and degrading that muslim women have to cover up and be sub servient to men. Maybe this was what Barry was referring to when he suggested that there were other factors? NOT.

    • mikethenovice says:

      It’s also degrading when the Republicans look down when talking about helping Main Street.

      • lee1957 says:

        That’s a moronic comment.

      • Winston says:

        Since you brought it up, here’s what democrats have done/are doing for “main street””

        Inflaming an ever increasing racial divide.

        Impoverishing the largest progressive run state, California, with the highest percentage of those living under the poverty line.

        Ignoring our soon to be insolvent entitlement programs (Social Security Disability next year).

        Presiding over the slowest economic recovery, the lowest labor participation rate in 4 decades.

        Squandering US influence in the world at the expense of vital national interests, particularly the Middle East.

        Negotiating a nuclear agreement that will set of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and actually shelter the Iranian nuclear weapons program.

        An immigration policy that amounts to the dissolution of our borders in order to import democrat party voters.Use of the IRS like a sort of political gestapo to shut up conservative groups.

        Supporting the sale of baby body parts.

        These appear to be the guiding principles of the Democrat party, either by design or by ignorance, aimed at a slow destruction of the country. Take that, main street.

  2. lokela says:

    Glad she is not covering her head anymore. They are cowards. Hope it’s very hot where they are now.

    • mikethenovice says:

      You would make fun of someone in Hawaii who wears a UH baseball cap all day long, would you? Mind your own dislikes concerning another ones culture to yourself.

    • inverse says:

      These Islamic extremists are NOT cowards; they are fanatical as they have no fear of dying or leaving their only child parent less. No one can peer into their mind to determine whether a person, man, woman or child is an Islamic terrorist bent on killing Americans or posing as a Syrian refugee or bride to be wanting to come to the United States.

      • d_bullfighter says:

        And therein lies the problem. By definition, becoming more devout means to actually follow and become more devoted to the teachings of the Quran. By logical extension then, all of the “moderate” Muslims living in Western countries have the same potential to become devout in their beliefs and follow the same course of action that this woman and her husband took. A Syrian refugee today has the potential of becoming a Muslim jihadist tomorrow. Problematic to say the least.

  3. mikethenovice says:

    The Republicans want us to send the NRA a Christmas card for allowing us to bear arms.

  4. Tita Girl says:

    “…lawyers described Malik as “just a housewife” and cautioned against rushing to judgment.” Idi0t statement of the day. Anyone who is “just a housewife” wouldn’t go on a shooting and killing rampage or stockpile pipe bombs,ammo and guns.

  5. cojef says:

    Devotion is far removed from fanaticism as love is to hatred. The article points out her gradual conversion to become a jihadist manifested by the change in appearances. As her conversion progressed her manner of dress changed consistent with the requirement that she cover her femaleness. Sad when a woman has to hide her wares to attract the opposite sex. Kidding aside it forces a woman to become mere convenience, not to love, cherish or adore. Why?

  6. Smiley7 says:

    That bumper sticker “Defend Hawaii” has more relevance today and we seniors may very well take up arms to do exactly that. It is our right as Americans to bear arms to protect ourselves and family. Our leaders have no plan in place for single or multiple shooters on soft targets. Auwe!

  7. SteveToo says:

    First thing to do is round up all Muslims not born in the USA and ship them back to where ever they came from.

    Then any born here that travel to the MID EAST have their passports canceled so they can’t return.

    Nuff said.

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