San Bernardino jihadis Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik took some steps to clean up their online footprint before launching the attack.
The news surfaced shortly before officials confirmed to media that Malik swore fealty to the Islamic State on Facebook during the shooting rampage that left 14 Americans dead, before the account went black. The evidence increasingly indicates that the attack was premeditated, and that a number of “red flags” for this deadly couple were ignored.
The Washington Times reports law enforcement sources saying Farook and Malik deleted their email accounts, disposed of hard drives, and smashed their cell phones. The cell phone recovered from Malik’s body was a new purchase, while the couple had smashed their other cell phones with a hammer.
The authorities also discovered that “a hard drive and motherboard were missing from a computer found at the Redlands, California, home that the couple rented.”
The New York Times further observes that the Facebook posting in which Malik swore fealty to the Islamic State – the bayat to the Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, for the benefit of Hillary Clinton and every other willfully obtuse Democrat – had apparently been removed from the social media site, but was somehow recovered by federal authorities.
Farook appears to have had a clean legal record before the attack, but the authorities were aware he was in contact with individuals under investigation for terrorism. No one from al-Qaeda or ISIS known as of yet, but representatives from the al-Qaeda-linked Somali group al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda’s franchise in Syria, the Nusra Front, are mentioned by the NYT. Farook also left some apparently innocuous entries on Muslim dating websites before hooking up with Malik, and does not seem to have found them worth deleting before the attack.
(Among other details revealed in his dating profile: he enjoyed recreational shooting, he was extremely devout, and he described himself as “cautious, reserved, skeptical, and very liberal.”)
Much of the report describes the investigators’ scramble to determine the exact movies for the attack, and cautioning reporters not to jump to conclusions. One official explained that “radicalization can happen in a number of different inflection points and in a number of different ways. It’s not a one-size-fits-all sort of thing.”
Evidently this particular couple was the “size” that fits pledging allegiance to the Islamic State while the cops were chasing them from the scene of a massacre, but it’s still important to pinpoint exactly how they joined the jihad, and who they had contact with. The couple seems well aware of that importance, because they took steps to make it difficult for the authorities to track down their contacts.
The Washington Times quotes officials noting that the couple apparently went to “great lengths to conceal themselves and make difficult investigation of their plans — further suggesting premeditation.”