Tashfeen Malik, 29, the female jihadi who helped kill 14 Americans in the San Bernardino massacre, comes from a family tied to Islamist militants, and allegedly evolved into a terrorist after attending college in Pakistan.
Malik’s family, from Karor Lal Esan in the Layyah district of Pakistan, includes Malik Ahmad Ali Aulakh, a cousin of Malik’s father. Local residents told the Los Angeles Times that the Aulakh family is connected to militant Islamists. Zahid Gishkori, 32, who lives in the Layyah district in the area and knows the family well, said, “The family has some extremist credentials.”
Malik attended Bahauddin Zakariya University in the city of Multan in southern Punjab from 2007 to 2012, according to a family member in Pakistan. The family member told the Times that Malik had been a “modern girl,” but after college, where she studied pharmacology, she moved to the United States, where she began posting extremist messages on Facebook.
The family member said:
After a couple of years in college, she started becoming religious. She started taking part in religious activities and also started asking women in the family and the locality to become good Muslims. She started taking part in religious activities of women in the area. She used to talk to somebody in Arabic at night on the Internet. None of our family members in Pakistan know Arabic, so we do not know what she used to discuss.
When Malik attended the university, she stayed at a house her father owns in the Babar Colony neighborhood of Multan. Dr. Nisar Hussain, one of Malik’s pharmacology professors, told The Times Malik wore a veil when he saw her. He stated, “She was religious, but a very normal person as well. She was a very hardworking and submissive student. She never created any problem in the class. She was an obedient girl. I cannot even imagine she could murder people.” Tellingly, he revealed, “I don’t think she had any kind of mental illness. She was among the best students, always hardworking, never created problems. Yes, she was religious, but not an extremist. She never tried to influence the class in the name of religion, never.”
Although FBI director James B. Comey said Friday he had no information that “these killers were part of an organized larger group or formed part of a cell. … There is no indication they were part of a network,” suspicious activities may indicate otherwise.
Workers near the Redlands home where Syed Farook’s mother and sister reputedly lived noticed Middle Eastern people visiting the home for weeks.
David Bowdich, assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles office, said of Farook and Malik, “At least one of the suspects was in telephonic communication with at least one other subject of investigation.” The terrorist couple also deleted email accounts and destroying their hard drives and cellphones, preventing any discovery of a possible connection with a terrorist network.