Pakistani security seeks to tamp down reporting on California shooter

Pakistani security forces appeared to be trying to dampen down reporting this weekend on the background of Tashfeen Malik, who mounted an attack alongside her husband that killed 14 people in California.

Reuters| Updated: Dec 07, 2015, 02:41 AM IST
Pakistani security seeks to tamp down reporting on California shooter

Multan: Pakistani security forces appeared to be trying to dampen down reporting this weekend on the background of Tashfeen Malik, who mounted an attack alongside her husband that killed 14 people in California.

Three professors at Malik`s university said they had been advised not to talk to the media, while men claiming to be from Pakistan`s security agencies told reporters to drop their investigations into her background on pain of arrest.

An official at the interior ministry later said this was due to a "misunderstanding". 

US authorities are treating last Wednesday`s mass shooting in San Bernardino as an "act of terrorism". Malik, 29, and husband Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, were killed two hours later in a shootout with police.

The Iraq- and Syria-based Islamic State jihadist group has claimed the couple as its followers, although it has not said it was in contact with them or that it directed the attack. 

Malik was born in Pakistan but spent most of her life in Saudi Arabia before she came to the United States to marry her husband, a U.S. citizen. She had a degree in pharmacy from a university in Pakistan`s central city of Multan.

On Sunday, three professors at Bahauddin Zakariya University, which Malik attended, said they had been instructed by security agencies not to speak to reporters.

One, who asked not to be named, said security officials visited the university on Saturday and removed records and pictures of Tashfeen.

"She was a very reserved person, a very quiet girl, she kept to herself," the professor said. "I could have never imagined she was capable of something like this. And there was nothing on the surface to suggest she had such extremist tendencies."

"I think this change in her mind, whenever it happened, must be very recent. The girl I remember ... she could not have the guts to do this."

Another former professor said he did not remember her at all. "She was probably not someone who stood out, academically or otherwise," he said.