This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Follow The Contacts

"Based on what is known now about the case, it certainly is unusual and does not fit neatly into any of the traditional models of violence that we’re familiar with."
Mark Pitcavage, director, Center on Extremism, Anti-Defamation League

"The unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives."
FBI terrorism definition

"The investigation so far has developed indications of radicalization by the killers, and of potential inspiration by foreign terrorist organizations."
"So far we have no indication that these killers are part of an organized larger group, or form part of a cell. There’s no indication that they are part of a network."
F.B.I. director, James Comey 
San Bernardino -- First Responders tending to the wounded
It was a combination working lunch conference and holiday party for state employees of the department which Syed Farook worked for as an environmental health specialist in San Bernardino, California. All those who were familiar with the man appeared to like him and thought him congenial enough. With the possible exception of one man, a workplace counterpart who was just as religiously inclined as was Mr. Farook, only as an Israel-supporting Jew, whereas Mr. Farook had previous disagreements with the man, insisting Israel had no business being in the Middle East.

What really seemed to set them at odds, although there was an informal policy in the branch they worked in, that politics and religion not be discussed, was Mr. Farook's insistence that Islam was a religion of peace. The health department's employee roll almost resembled and was identified as a "Little United Nations", with people employed there originally from Eritrea, Colombia, India, Mexico, Central America -- and of Pakistani heritage.

In the large room that the group had rented for the occasion, 75 people were present. They were first to be exposed to the working part of the morning's conference, and after an hour, leaving his papers and jacket behind, Mr. Farook rose and left. The college graduate who had five years of experience in environmental health, who helped train co-workers on a new computer program, winning acknowledgement for good performance had gone back home.

He did return, however, at about 11:00 a.m., during a brief break in the proceedings when people were invited to help themselves to the generous buffet laid out for their leisure selection. Mr. Farook came back accompanied by his wife, though none of those present would recognize him, and they had never before seen her. Both were wearing black masks and conflict-tactical gear. A talk on statistics had just concluded.

As the husband and wife approached the patio where unlocked doors led directly through to the conference room, one man sitting outside, relaxing during the break was shot dead before the deadly duo entered the conference room. In the space of a minute the stunned gathering heard 65 to 75 rounds, fired from a Smith & Wesson and two AR-15s. Gunfire pockmarked the walls, a sprinkler system was hit. In that brief time between life and death dozens were shot, some up to five times.

And then the gunfire ended. Leaving fourteen people dead, and 21 injured. A massacre. A measurable success for those whose furious rage against the world outside Islam must be appeased. This was an exercise in hatred brought alive by two people schooled in jihad. Who had made careful preparation to mount a notably savage attack by procuring weaponry that would make a distinctive mark in the annals of American atrocities. Oddly, one co-worker at least recognized Mr. Farook.

Tashfeen Malik -- Islamist malevolence personified
From the time the shooting started four minutes of pure hell passed. And then police in tactical gear rushed into the room, guns drawn, moving through the conference room. "Don't take anything! Police! Everyone get your hands up", they shouted, hurrying survivors out of the building. Where first-responders checked for injuries in a triage tent, and they waited to be interviewed by investigators, and were united with family and friends who had rushed to the scene.

They would discover later that a news agency operated by Islamic State supporters released a statement claiming that "supporters of the Islamic State" had carried out the killings, according to a translation provided by the SITE Intelligence Group. And then intelligence began gathering other vital data after the fact, that Ms. Malik had graduated from a Pakistani university with a pharmacy degree. That her family, originally from a town in Punjab Province had a reputation for turning out extremist jihadis.

Her husband is now known to have had frequent contact with extremist Islamists both in the United States and abroad, although no investigation was ever carried forward looking into his activities. The two were obviously of like minds and found one another through the Internet where they may have exchanged their Islamist views. It appears from evidence that is now being revealed that they were indeed kindred spirits, so it was natural that they would become kin-by-marriage.

Aside from Ms. Malik's background of Islamist radicalism, she is said to have pledged allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a Facebook posting the very day of the attack, taking the precaution of using an account under a different name than her own. It seems they hadn't planned to become martyrs, but to carry on with life. Their sacrifice for Islam was not to be their own lives embellished by the deaths of others, but only the deaths of others.

"We’ve especially focused on the portfolio of people we’re investigating for the potential of being homegrown violent extremists. That is, people consuming the propaganda. So those investigations are designed to figure out where are they on the spectrum from consuming to acting."
"Within that group we’re trying to focus on those we think might be at the highest risk of being a copycat [of the Paris bombings]. 
"And so we are pressing additional resources, additional focus against those. That’s the dozens."
F.B.I. director, James Comey

That, from a public statement made last month in the wake of the Paris atrocities. The Bureau has evidence that Mr. Farook engaged with five individuals on whom the F.B.I. had previously opened investigations for possible terrorist activities. according to law enforcement officials. All of those five inquiries were closed. This is not of recent vintage. One of the individuals was with Somalian al-Shabab, another with the al-Qaeda-associated Nusra Front in Syria.

Where there is smoke, look out for fire.

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