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San Bernardino Killers Did Not Post Public Terror Messages

Tom Winter and Pete Williams
Tashfeen Malik, (L), and Syed Farook are pictured passing through Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in this July 27, 2014 handout photo.
Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday that San Bernardino shooters Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik did not post jihadist messages on Facebook before she came to the United States.

Instead, he said, the couple were communicating with each other in "direct, private messages."

"We have found no evidence of a posting on social media by either of them at that period of time or thereafter reflecting their commitment to jihad or to martyrdom," he said, calling reports to the contrary "a garble."

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His comments were intended to resolve confusion over whether Malik had posted extremist messages on a public-facing account that officials could have seen when she applied for a visa.

Concern that was the case prompted government officials to say they would review whether visa-seeker's social media accounts deserve greater scrutiny in the future.

"It's safe to assume that in the wake of this tragic incident that we're all going to be taking a hard look at the social media aspect of this," State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters Monday.

The Department of Homeland Security is also working to add social media to background checks, officials said.

In other updates on the investigation into the Dec. attack that killed 14 people, Comey said:

  • There is no indication Malik and Farook had direct contact with terrorist organizations.
  • There is no evidence they were part of a terror cell.
  • Investigators do not know why they chose to attack the Inland Regional Center, where Farook's county co-workers were having a gathering.
  • They cannot say for sure whether anyone else was involved in the attack.
  • Investigators have started to recover data from Malik and Farook's phones and other media devices.
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