WASHINGTON » San Bernardino, Calif., shooter Tashfeen Malik sent at least two private messages on Facebook to a small group of Pakistani friends in 2012 and 2014, pledging her support for Islamic jihad and saying she hoped to join the fight one day, two top federal law enforcement officials said Monday.
The two messages, posted before Malik entered the United States on a K-1 fiancee visa in July 2014, were recovered by FBI agents investigating whether she and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, had been in direct contact with foreign terror organizations and were directed to carry out the Dec. 2 attacks.
The Facebook messages indicate for the first time that U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials missed warnings on social media that Malik was a potential threat before she applied for her U.S. visa.
One of the officials characterized the messages as “her private communications … to a small group of her friends.”
The official added, “it went only to this small group in Pakistan.” The official said they were written in Urdu, an official language of Pakistan.
The second official said Malik “expressed her desire” in one of the posts to become an Islamic militant in her own right.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation into the San Bernardino attack, which left 14 people dead and 22 wounded.
The FBI has found that Malik and Farook were separately self-radicalized before they met on the Internet, apparently in 2013. Agents now are seeking to learn if others helped them plan or finance the San Bernardino attack, or even ordered them to carry out the assault.
FBI divers, who spent several days searching a San Bernardino lake near the couples’ home, recovered a few items but nothing that could be traced back to the couple, officials said. The dives were completed Monday.
“At best it was a hunch that something was in there,” one official said, adding that a tipster had recalled seeing a couple by the lake on the day of the shootings.
FBI agents continued to interview and investigate Farook’s former neighbor and friend, Enrique Marquez. He has told authorities that he gave the couple two semiautomatic rifles that were used in the attack.
No charges have been filed against Marquez.
Pressing criminal charges against him would cut off “any opportunity to let him lead investigators to any other persons or to an organization with whom he may be or may have been in contact with in the furtherance of the San Bernardino attack or other planned terrorist attacks,” one official said.
©2015 Tribune Co.