On Thursday, authorities continued to dig into the previous day’s mass shooting in San Bernardino. The massacre resulted in at least 14 dead and many more wounded during what was supposed to be a holiday celebration at the Inland Regional Center. Many hours after the shootings occurred, police located the townhome of two married suspects, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik. After a pursuit, officers opened fire upon the suspects’ black SUV, which ended the manhunt.
The hunt for a motive, however, remains ongoing. Was this the result of a workplace conflict with deadly retribution, or was it something else? After all, Farook’s co-workers are said to have recently thrown a baby shower for the married couple. Late Thursday evening, authorities stopped short of drawing an ultimate conclusion. Officials noted that Farook was “apparently radicalized” and “in touch with international terrorism subjects,” but they did not formally assign terrorism as a motive for the mass shooting. The FBI’s David Bowdich elaborated on the decision:
“It would be irresponsible and premature for me to call this terrorism. The FBI defines terrorism very specifically, and that is the big question for us, what is the motivation for this.”
The National Institute of Justice provides the precise definition of terrorism:
Title 22 of the U.S. Code, Section 2656f(d) defines terrorism as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.”
The FBI defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”
Authorities played it safe at Thursday’s press conference in their hesitation to make a declaration. Yet the “premeditated” aspect of the crime was satisfied by the level of preparation police discovered at the shooters’ home. Several pipe bombs and thousands of rounds of ammunition aren’t come by casually. Further, the NIJ elaborates that most law enforcement agencies accept the FBI definition, which “stresses methods over motivations.”
On Friday morning, CNN’s Jake Tapper dropped news that investigators have found possible evidence that Malik pledged allegiance to ISIS.
CNN has followed up with more details. Authorities say that the Facebook posting, which was “a pledge of allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” occurred during the massacre. Malik made the posting under an account with a false name, and “officials did not explain how they knew Malik made the post.” Officials conducted a thorough search of the shooters’ electronics, but the couple took great pains to erase their digital trail. The home computer was missing its hard drive and motherboard, and authorities uncovered two phones that had been destroyed with a hammer. However, a “newly purchased” phone was found near Malik’s body.