One of the shooters in the San Bernardino massacre, Tashfeen Malik, sent at least two private messages on Facebook to a small group of Pakistani friends in 2012 and 2014, pledging her support for jihad and saying she hoped to join the fight one day, the Los Angeles Times reported on Monday.
The messages were posted before Malik, 29, entered the United States on a K-1 fiancée visa in July 2014, the Times said, citing two top federal law enforcement officials.
The Times said Malik’s Facebook messages indicate for the first time that US law enforcement and intelligence officials missed warnings on social media that she was a potential threat before she applied for her US visa.
The officials, who declined to be identified by name, would not discuss specific social media monitoring techniques that are being tested.
But one administration official said the new procedures should help clear up confusion about how far the Department of Homeland Security may go in monitoring the social media activity of visa applicants.
While there currently is no explicit order banning visa investigators from trawling applicants’ social media accounts, some agencies have been wary about doing so, the official said.
According to the Los Angeles Times report, one of the officials characterized Malik’s messages as “her private communications … to a small group of her friends,” according to the Times. The official added, “It went only to this small group in Pakistan.” The official said they were written in Urdu.
The second official said Malik “expressed her desire” in one of the posts to become an Islamic militant in her own right, the Times said. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity, the newspaper said.
Farook, the US-born son of Pakistani immigrants, and Malik, a Pakistani native he married last year in Saudi Arabia, were killed in a shootout with police hours after the assault in San Bernardino, 60 miles east of Los Angeles.
The FBI has said the couple declared they were acting on behalf of Islamic State. But FBI Director James Comey has said there was no evidence the militant group was aware of them before the attack.