California attackers radicalized before dating: FBI chief

The assailants are accused of killing 14 people and wounding another 21 at a holiday party at a non-profit social services center in San Bernardino.

AFP| Updated: Dec 09, 2015, 22:28 PM IST

Washington: The husband-and-wife killers who carried out last week`s shooting attack in San Bernardino, California were radicalized before they started dating, FBI Director James Comey told Congress on Wednesday.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation`s terror probe has determined that US-born Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, a Pakistani national, were inspired by foreign terror groups and discussed "jihad and martyrdom" as early as 2013, Comey said.

The investigation "indicates that they were actually radicalized before they started courting or dating each other online," Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee during a hearing.

"And online, as early as the end of 2013, they were talking to each other about jihad and martyrdom before they became engaged and then married and lived together in the United States.

"We also believe they were inspired by foreign terror organizations," Comey said.

The FBI, he added, was "working very hard to understand whether there was anybody else involved with assisting them, with supporting them, with equipping them. And we`re working very very hard to understand, did they have other plans."

The assailants are accused of killing 14 people and wounding another 21 at a holiday party at a non-profit social services center in San Bernardino.

Malik is believed to have pledged allegiance to the IS group in a Facebook post made under another name, around the time of the attack, according to media reports.