SAN BERNARDINO (CNN, KRON) — Syed Rizwan Farook — who along with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, carried out the San Bernardino shooting massacre — apparently was radicalized and in touch with people being investigated by the FBI for international terrorism, law enforcement officials said Thursday.
Farook’s apparent radicalization contributed to his role in the mass shooting of 14 people Wednesday during a holiday party for the San Bernardino County health department, where Farook worked, sources said. The names of the victims were released Thursday evening.
Still, the radicalization wasn’t necessarily the only driver behind the carnage, as workplace grievances might have also played a role. President Barack Obama hinted as much Thursday when he said that the attackers may have had “mixed motives.”
David Bowditch, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office, told reporters Thursday that Farook had traveled to Pakistan.
And two government officials said no red flags were raised when he’d gone to Saudi Arabia for several weeks in 2013 on the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims are required to take at least once in their lifetime. It was during this trip that he met Malik, a native of Pakistan who came to the United States in July 2014 on a “fiancée visa” and later became a lawful permanent resident.
Saudi and U.S. officials said records show Farook also was in Saudi Arabia in July 2014. He was there for nine days, a Saudi official said. A U.S. official described the 2014 trip as Farook’s “last recorded” trip to the country.
Officials had previously said neither Farook nor Malik were known to the FBI or on a list of potentially radicalized people. Nor had they had any known interactions with police until Wednesday.
Yet Farook himself had talked by phone and on social media with more than one person being investigated for terrorism, law enforcement officials said.
The communications were “soft connections” in that they weren’t frequent, one law enforcement official said. It had been a few months since Farook’s last back-and-forth with these people, who officials said were not considered high priority.
Police said in a news conference 91 people were invited to the holiday party where the shooting took place, About 75-80 of them were in the room at the time of the shooting, police said.
Of the 21 injured, 18 were county employees. Out of the 14 killed, 12 of them were county employees.
FBI official: ‘What is the motivation for this?’
As to what role those communications played in the San Bernardino carnage, the official said, “We don’t know yet what they mean.”
Added Bowdich, from the FBI: “That is the big question for us: What is the motivation for this?”
San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan echoed that sentiment, while adding that whatever led the two to launch Wednesday’s assault, they could have killed more had they survived. He pointed to the discovery of hundreds of rounds of ammunition in their rented black SUV as well as in their apartment.
Authorities also found 12 pipe bombs there, as well as hundreds of tools that “could be used to construct IEDs or pipe bombs,” the chief said.
“If you look at the amount of obvious preplanning that went in, the amount of armaments (they) had, the weapons and the ammunition, there was obviously a mission here,” added Bowdich. “We know that. We do not know why.
“We don’t know if this was the intended target or if there was something that triggered him to do this immediately. We just don’t know.”
Chief: Shooter left party under ‘angry’ circumstances
The nightmare began at Wednesday’s holiday party, which San Bernardino’s police chief said that Farook had left abruptly “under circumstances that were described as angry.”
He and his wife returned around 11 a.m. (2 p.m. ET) dressed in “black … tactical gear” and heavily armed. Each had a semiautomatic rifle and a pistol. Then they opened fire, unloading 65 to 75 rounds.
Farook and his wife slipped out a door and into a SUV, which they’d rented locally and had Utah plates.
By then, officers had arrived and began chasing a number of leads. One of them led them to Farook, after another person at the party at Inland Regional Center expressed “some concern over his behavior,” Burguan said Thursday.
Officers went with a search warrant to the couple’s rented apartment in the neighboring city of Redlands, where they saw a black SUV drive by them, slowly at first, before speeding away.
A police car took up pursuit, and the SUV raced back toward San Bernardino. Then came shots from that vehicle, and a barrage of police gunfire in return.
The couple ended firing at least 76 rounds, while the 21 responding police officers unleashed about 380 rounds of their own, according to Burguan.
By the time the last shot rang out, the SUV was riddled with bullet holes. And Farook and Malik were inside, dead.
Gun and explosives discovered
The husband and wife didn’t leave a note to explain their attack, nor did they say anything during the bloodbath, said San Bernardino’s police chief.