California shooters discussed martyrdom even before meeting: FBI – Reuters

WASHINGTON The couple who massacred 14 people at a California holiday party were discussing martyrdom online before they met in person and married last year, FBI Director James Comey said on Wednesday.

Comey, testifying at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said there was yet no evidence that the marriage of Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, who was born in the United States to Pakistani immigrants, and Tashfeen Malik, 29, who was born in Pakistan and lived most of her life in Saudi Arabia, was arranged by a militant group.

“They were actually radicalized before they started … dating each other online, and as early as the end of 2013 they were talking to each other about jihad and martyrdom before they became engaged,” Comey said.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation believes that the couple, who were killed in a shootout with police a few hours after their attack on the party, were inspired by foreign terrorist organizations. Comey said it would be “very, very important to know” if their marriage last year had been arranged as a way to carry out attacks in the United States.

The investigation of the San Bernardino, California, shooting also is looking at the relationship between Farook and boyhood friend Enrique Marquez. The New York Times has reported that Marquez had converted to Islam a few years ago and state documents showed that he was connected to Farook’s family by marriage.

Police have said Marquez legally bought the AR-15 assault-style rifles that Farook and Malik used in their attack on the party, which also left 21 people wounded. Marquez, who worked at a Walmart Supercenter in Corona, California, has not been arrested in the case but he was questioned by the FBI on Tuesday and his family home was raided over the weekend.

Marquez checked himself into a Los Angeles-area psychiatric facility soon after the shooting.

State documents showed that last year Marquez married Mariya Chernykh, whose sister is married to Farook’s brother, Syed Raheel Farook, a U.S. Navy veteran.

It could not be immediately determined if Marquez lived with his wife. The New York Times reported that he split his time between his family’s home and that of a girlfriend.

(Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Toni Reinhold)


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