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Friday, June 21, 2024 | Back issues
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San Bernardino Shooter’s Past|Shakes Confidence in Visa Process

WASHINGTON (CN) - U.S. immigration workers conducted at least three interviews with the Pakistan-born killer behind last week's onslaught in San Bernardino before letting her into the country to marry her partner in the attacks, a Republican lawmaker said Thursday, summarizing a confidential briefing on the shootings.

Talking to reporters outside the room, Rep. Bob Goodlatte said this afternoon's briefing largely affirmed his commitment to strengthening the visa process with legislation that will prevent the wrong people from entering the country.

"I think that if we have a better system for interviewing people - this woman was interviewed at three different points in this process - that it would be much more likely that these problems would be revealed," Goodlatte told reporters. "I couldn't comment on whether this particular case would have been solved, but there were lots of things out there that if had they been found would have indicated that."

The briefing comes one day after FBI Director James Comey shed light on the couple who professed allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist group before killing 14 and injuring 21 at the Inland Regional Center, a social services office in San Bernardino, on Dec.2.

Comey said Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook had radicalized and were talking about "jihad and martyrdom" in online chats before they began dating in 2013.

Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said members of Malik and Farook's community had found their behavior suspicious in the lead-up to the attacks, but no one reported the couple for fear of appearing discriminatory.

Specifically, neighbors had apparently seen the couple behaving suspiciously in their garage at strange hours of the night.

Goodlatte insisted people should be on the lookout for red flags like this and prepared to call out such behavior.

"It's not an issue of discrimination, anybody of any race, creed or color could engage in these types of activity, but they're engaging in a suspicious activity, it is entirely appropriate, and we hope people will take to heart that those things should be reported, so if there is a basis for looking into it further, law enforcement is better capable of making that decision than individuals," Goodlatte said.

Authorities gunned down Malik, 27, and Farook, 28, after the couple fled the carnage in San Bernardino for a residential neighborhood in Redlands.

While Malik was born in Pakistan, Farook was born in Illinois, a U.S. citizen of Pakistani heritage who worked for San Bernardino County.

Investigators believe that Farook met Malik in a 2013 visit to Saudi Arabia.

A year later, Farook brought Malik into the United States on a K-1 fiance visa. Malik was granted a conditional green card in July 2015.

The FBI is investigating whether a terrorist organization arranged Farook and Malik's marriage, as well as whether the couple conceived of the deadly plot themselves, or carried it out the Islamic State's direction.

During Malik's relatively short time in the U.S., the couple had amassed a huge arsenal.

Investigators found a dozen pipe bombs, about 2,000 handgun rounds and as many assault rifle rounds, in addition to tools for making more bombs. They said many of the bomb components were ordinary household items, like radio-controlled toys and Christmas lights.

The Dec. 2 terrorist attack represents the deadliest mass shooting in the United States since Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., three years ago.

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