California shooting investigated as act of terrorism: FBI

California shooting investigated as act of terrorism: FBI

The mass shooting in California is investigated as an act of terrorism, the FBI has said amid reports that the Pakistani woman who carried out the attack with her Pakistani-American husband had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and its leader on Facebook.

"This is now a federal terrorism investigation, led by the FBI. The reason for that is that the investigation so far has developed indications of radicalisation by the killers and of potential inspiration by foreign terrorist organisations," FBI Director James Comey told reporters during a joint news conference with the US Attorney General Loretta E Lynch.

The agency's director has however said that there is yet no indication that the couple who killed 14 people at San Bernardino were part of a larger plot or members of a terror cell.

US investigators had yesterday said that the Pakistani wife of the Pakistani-American man who together carried out the deadly shooting, pledged allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Facebook.

Officials had said that as the attack in San Bernardino was happening, 27-year-old female shooter Tashfeen Malik, a mother of six-month old baby, posted a pledge of allegiance to IS leader al-Baghdadi on Facebook.

While Malik was a Pakistani national, Farook's parents migrated to the US from Pakistan. Both were killed the same day by the police in an exchange of fire.

A pro-IS Arabic-language news agency Aamaq had called Malik and Farook "sympathisers" of the Islamic State group but stopped short of claiming responsibility for the attack.

The FBI chief, however, said the first two days of the investigation has thrown no indication that the killers are part of an organised larger group or form part of a cell.

"There's no indication that they are part of a network. Again, it is early. We're still working very hard to understand. But I wanted you to know that so far we don't see such indications," he asserted.

In addition to having recovering a large haul of ammunition from the couple's apartment in San Bernardino, the FBI also got huge electronic material which the couple unsuccessfully tried to destroy before being killed by the police.

"We are going through a very large volume of electronic evidence. This is electronic evidence that these killers tried to destroy and tried to conceal from us, that we now have and are exploiting to try and understand them," Comey said. 

The FBI chief said there is nothing in their holdings about the two killers.

"I have seen reporting where folks have focused on reports at least one of the killers was in contact with people who had been the subject of FBI investigations, either investigations that were closed or that were still open," he said and asked the media not to make too much of that.

"There were no contacts between either of the killers and subjects of our investigations that were such of a significance that it raised these killers up onto our radar screen.

We're obviously looking very closely at those contacts, but I would not want you to over index on that just yet," he said.

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes commended the FBI for acknowledging the San Bernardino killings as an act of terror.

"It is now time for President (Barack) Obama to acknowledge that this act was committed by the same Islamic jihadist movement – including al Qaeda and its estranged sister organisation ISIS – that we have battled for fifteen years," he said.

"Despite the President's statements that ISIS is contained and that al Qaeda is on the run, the events in San Bernardino show that the threat is real and growing.

"For the sake of the safety of the American people and our allies, the President must use every available resource to take the fight to the enemy," Nunes said.

Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said, "If we're going to keep the American people safe, the administration must put forward the broad and aggressive strategy needed to defeat Islamist terrorism and protect our country."

"We now have yet another case of radicalization fuelled by the internet and social media – a method that terrorists have exploited for years. When is this administration going to wake up?" Royce asked. 

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