As the investigation into the San Bernardino terrorists moves into its second week, there are increasing indications that Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik were on the radar of authorities – or should have been, according to some lawmakers.
“You have to say it was an intelligence failure,” Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Az., said Thursday following a closed-door House briefing on the shooting. “You have to. Because it was.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Cal., said some of the shooters’ actions may have raised red flags.
“There are things that may have alerted law enforcement to an issue with Farook, but I don’t know that we know enough to say that these were apparent without the advantage of hindsight,” Schiff said.
Asked specifically about a report Thursday that Farook may have had ties to a group of now-convicted terrorists based in Riverside, where Farook lived, Schiff hedged.
“I think [FBI Director James Comey] stated publicly in the past that there have been contacts with people of interest to the bureau but not to read too much into that,” Schiff said.
Farook was allegedly plotting an attack on an unknown location in 2012 but scuttled the plan after the arrests of three men in California and a terror ringleader in Afghanistan in November 2012. Citing two U.S. law enforcement officials, CNN reported Thursday that Farook “had ties” to one of the men, Sohiel Kabir, a terrorist recruiter who was apprehended in Afghanistan. Farook was in Kabir’s “social circle.”
Farook and Malik’s names likely arose during an earlier FBI investigation but didn’t raise any flags, Reuters reported Thursday afternoon, citing a source. It was not immediately clear if that earlier investigation was related to the November 2012 arrests.
Reuters also reported that Malik tried unsuccessfully to contact multiple Islamic militant groups in the months before the San Bernardino massacre, which left 14 dead and 21 injured. Two government sources said the groups probably ignored Malik because Islamist groups have recently become wary of responding to unknown outsiders.
Schiff said there was no indication of a “public use of social media that was missed” but noted “there are other ways that you can communicate without being seen.”