WASHINGTON (KRON, AP, CNN) — FBI Director James Comey says the two San Bernardino, California shooters were radicalized at least two years ago and had discussed jihad and martyrdom as early as 2013.
Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, were radicalized even before they met online.
The couple wed last year.
Comey also said the couple was inspired by foreign terror organizations and described them as “homegrown violent extremists.”
But what happened to transform a trained pharmacist and a county health inspector into terrorists is still a mystery.
Investigators believe shooter Syed Rizwan Farook may have been plotting an earlier attack in California with someone else, two U.S. officials told CNN on Tuesday. One of the officials said the two conspired in 2012 and a specific target was considered. The pair “got spooked” and decided not to go through with the earlier attack after a round of terror-related arrests in the area, an official said.
And sources also told CNN that investigators believe Tashfeen Malik, Farook’s wife and the other shooter who opened fire Wednesday, was radicalized at least two years ago.
Investigators are still trying to piece together profiles of the couple who killed 14 people and died in a gunbattle with police last week. They’re also working to pinpoint whether anyone in the United States or abroad helped finance and shape the plot.
Farook took out a bank loan for $28,500 in November, multiple law enforcement officials told CNN on Tuesday.
About half the money was given to Farook’s mother in the last couple of weeks, one official said, and some of it was spent on household items.
Investigators have accounted for all the money and do not believe any of it was provided to the killers by any outside entity backing the plot, according to one of the sources. Because of that, the officials said the loan is not considered of significant investigative value at this stage.
But one expert told CNN the loan could be another sign that Farook had been preparing for the attack.
“What it indicates is he was financing this operation or his life or his afterlife for his child and mother, using what is now wire fraud and bank fraud, so it’s just two more additional charges that the FBI will be looking at,” said Tim Clemente, a former FBI counterterrorism agent.
This article was compiled using information from wire reports.