Thursday, 3 December 2015

Couple Kept Tight Lid on Plans for San Bernardino Shooting

On Wednesday morning, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, left their 6-month-old daughter with Mr. Farook’s mother, telling her they were going out for a doctor’s appointment, a relative said.By nightfall, it was clear that had been a ruse. The police said the couple had gone on a rampage at a social services center in San Bernardino, killing at least 14 people, before leading officers on a sprawling chase that ended with the two dead in a bloody gunfight in a suburban neighborhood.

As investigators searched for a motive, a picture began to emerge of how the couple had hidden their plan even from close relatives. To some, they appeared steeped in the routines of work and parenthood. They had registered online for gifts for their newborn, including a car seat and diapers.But in their last moments, with the police in pursuit of the rented sport utility vehicle Mr. Farook was driving, Ms. Malik aimed and fired a rifle out the back of the car. Before the couple were killed, the authorities said, they unloaded 76 rounds at the police and injured two officers.Mr. Farook and Ms. Malik met on a dating website, according to Mr. Farook’s brother-in-law, Farhan Khan, who is married to one of Mr. Farook’s two sisters.Ms. Malik, 27, was born in Pakistan and had lived with her family in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Khan said. Mr. Farook, 28, was born in Illinois, and his parents are from Pakistan. The couple had been married for two years. An online baby registry in Ms. Malik’s name said her daughter was due May 17 of this year and listed diapers, baby wash, a car seat and safety swabs.Mr. Khan said that Mr. Farook had traveled to Saudi Arabia at least two times: first to meet Ms. Malik’s family and then to marry her.A congressional official briefed on the inquiry said the authorities believed Mr. Farook had also gone to Saudi Arabia for the hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage, though it was not clear exactly when.“They don’t think it was for nefarious activity,” the official said, “but more will shake out” when personal computers and cellphones are examined.While Mr. Farook was raised in California, the police said the couple had entered the United States together in July 2014. Ms. Malik was traveling with a Pakistani passport and a K-1 visa. The visa, created specifically for fiancés, allows the holder to enter the country and marry an American citizen. A couple must marry within 90 days; after that, the K-1 visa expires.Mr. Farook applied for a permanent resident green card for Ms. Malik within the legal 90-day limit, a federal official said. In July 2015, she was granted a conditional green card, for which, as a matter of procedure, the couple had to prove that their marriage was legitimate. Additionally, Ms. Malik had to pass criminal and national security background checks.Continue reading.After Mr. Farook graduated from California State University, San Bernardino in 2010, officials said, he worked for five years as an environmental inspector for the San Bernardino County Public Health Department.On Wednesday, Mr. Farook joined colleagues at an annual holiday party, the same party he had attended the year before. He did not appear out of place.Soon, however, he stormed out in anger. The nature of the dispute was not clear, but when he returned with his wife, both of them were dressed in tactical gear and carrying assault rifles, officials said.In a text message, Mr. Khan described the couple as “very private people” and said he had never heard them speak in anger. He wrote that Mr. Farook had been a “normal person.”A few years before he married his wife, Mr. Farook had profiles on at least two dating websites, where he advertised his family as well-adjusted. “Religios but modern,” he wrote.One of the sites was aimed at people in the United Arab Emirates, and the other markets itself to Indian singles. Mr. Farook signed up for one when he was 22 and the other when he was 23.He described himself as a health, safety and environmental inspector who came from a Sunni Muslim family of two girls and two boys.Mr. Farook’s parents appeared to have a tumultuous and often violent marriage, according to court records. His mother, Rafia Farook, filed for dissolution of the marriage in 2006. Additionally, she accused her husband, also named Syed Farook, of domestic violence. Those complaints were later dismissed.In 2008, Ms. Farook again accused her husband of domestic violence and legally separated from him.But the trouble apparently continued until as recently as February of this year, when she made another domestic violence complaint. Records indicate that the complaint is still active.Here in Riverside, about 20 miles from the site of the shooting, the Farook family had lived in a small ranch house since at least the 1990s, neighbors said. The house was full of life, with goats and chickens raised in the backyard.Victor Venegas, who lives across the street, once owned a small trucking company for which the elder Syed Farook worked as an independent contractor. He owned an 18-wheeler, Mr. Venegas said.“I would send him all the way to Georgia, and he loved that,” Mr. Venegas said. He said he believed the father had continued to work as a truck driver after Mr. Venegas disbanded the business.Money may have been a strain in the Farook household. The father would ask Mr. Venegas for money.“He would sometimes come over without calling and asking, ‘Can I have $10 to buy cigarettes?’ ” Mr. Venegas said.Another neighbor, Luis Escamilla, 25, went to high school with one of the younger Mr. Farook’s sisters, Eba Farook. He said she had recounted tension between the father and the rest of the family.“She said they would kick the dad out for a few months, then he would come back,” Mr. Escamilla said. “He didn’t get along with the rest of the family.”Both Farook parents often wore traditional Muslim attire, with Ms. Farook covering her hair. But the children usually dressed in Western clothing, neighbors said.As they got into their teens, neighbors said, the brothers occasionally appeared in traditional dress, though never as often as their father. Mr. Farook grew his beard out.

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