The ISIS-inspired female terrorist in the recent mass killings in San Bernardino, Calif., reportedly entered the country on a so-called “fiancée visa” that listed a false or at least inaccurate foreign home address.
The woman, Tashfeen Malik, listed an address in her home country of Pakistan. This summer, she received her Green Card, which allows immigrants to legally live and work in the United States, according to ABC News.
The Department of Homeland Security did not respond Saturday to a Fox News request for comment.
The issue raises questions about the vetting process for immigrants amid growing concerns that Middle East terrorists could be slipping into the country.
Malik and husband Syed Rizwan Farook killed 14 people Wednesday in San Bernardino, about an hour east of Los Angeles.
She and Farook were killed in a shootout with police after the deadly shootings.
Farook traveled to Saudi Arabia and returned to the United States with Malik in July 2014. They were married the next month and had a 6-month-old daughter.
Farook reportedly had contact with people connected to at least two foreign terrorist organizations before the couple opened fire in the San Bernardino office building.
The Los Angeles Times, citing an anonymous federal law enforcement official, reports that Farook was in contact with members of the Al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front and the African extremist group Al-Shabaab. The official told the Times there was “some type” of contact between Farook and the terror groups, but it was unclear what kind of contact the parties had.
Islamic State radio also released a statement early Saturday saying two supporters of the terror group committed the atrocity in California, according to Reuters. However, ISIS didn't claim responsibility for the attacks.
The report of Farook’s potential ties to terror groups and ISIS' reported statement comes after Fox News confirmed that Malik had pledged her allegiance to ISIS hours before the attack. Those developments confirmed the suspicions of many, and left it obvious that Malik, at least, was driven by radical Islam.
Malik posted a statement of support for allegiance to ISIS leader and self-proclaimed “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Facebook. The post was confirmed by an official of the social networking website. The 29-year-old Pakistani woman had remained largely a name without a face until the FBI released a picture of her early Saturday.
"Usually it's ISIS supporters trying to radicalize young girls online as they try to find new wives, but this may be the first case I know of where the opposite happened," said Ryan Mauro, a national security analyst for Clarion Project, which tracks international terrorism.
Prior to her move to the United States, Malik started studying pharmacy at Bahauddin Zakariya University in the Pakistani city of Multan in 2012, the school's vice chancellor, Tahir Amin told the Associated Press. It was not immediately clear whether she graduated.
A maid who worked in the Multan home where Malik lived told the AP that Malik would travel back to Saudi Arabia to be with her family when school was out. During her stay in Multan, her style of dress became more conservative over time, the maid said.
The maid said Malik initially wore a scarf that covered her head but not her face. A year before she got married, she started to dress more conservatively and began wearing a scarf that covered all but her nose and eyes, the maid said. The maid spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of jeopardizing her employment with the family.
Authorities told the Los Angeles Times authorities in Pakistan are investigating whether Malik had ties to radical Islamist organizations.
There have been reports Farook had ties to radicals in Pakistan and had a made a trip there in recent years, but a source connected to the Pakistani Consulate in Los Angeles told Fox News Friday that he didn’t possess a Pakistani passport and there is no record of him applying for a visa to travel to Pakistan through his local consulate. That didn’t preclude the possibility that he may have entered the country illegally or obtained a visa overseas or elsewhere.
The FBI acknowledged Friday that it is treating the investigation into the massacre in San Bernardino as an act of terrorism. FBI Director James Comey affirmed the bureau’s LA office’s characterization earlier Friday.
"This is now a federal terrorism investigation," Comey said, alluding to evidence collected from electronic devices and reports that Farook and Malik may have been sympathetic to radical terrorist groups prior to the attack.
David Bowdich, the assistant FBI director in charge of the Los Angeles office, told reporters at a Friday afternoon news conference before Comey’s announcement the agency was investigating the attack as an act of terrorism “for good reason.”
Bowdich, who said neither of the two was on law enforcement's radar prior to the attack, cited several factors for the focus on terrorism, including "extensive planning" that went into the attack. The pair attempted to cover up their digital trail, damaging hard drives and other electronic devices, Bowdich said. Investigators did find two cell phones recovered from trash cans near the couple's Redlands home, and recovered evidence of communications with others who are now being investigated.
“They tried to wipe out their digital fingerprints,” he said, adding that digital communications will likely provide further substantiation of the motive, but "it's not a three-day process."
Though little information continues to trickle in about Malik, a large part of her life remains a mystery. A leader of the area’s Pakistani-American Muslim community said the woman had “no presence on the Internet" and didn't interact with others in the Muslim community.”
Malik and Farook married in Riverside County, Calif., according to their marriage license. The marriage and passage of criminal and national security background checks using FBI and Department of Homeland Security databases resulted in the conditional green card for Malik in July 2015, two months after she gave birth to their baby daughter.
Farook is a third-generation American from a family hailing from Karachi, Pakistan. Sources close to his family insisted that his marriage to Malik was not arranged. He told co-workers, who hosted a baby shower for him and his wife earlier this year, that Malik was a pharmacist. The California Board of Pharmacy has no record of her working as either a pharmacist or a pharmacist’s assistant.
Farook was described as a devout Muslim who prayed every day and recently memorized the Koran, according to brothers Nizaam and Rahemaan Ali. Rahemaan Ali said he last saw Farook three weeks ago, when he abruptly stopped going to the mosque. Ali said Farook seemed happy and his usual self, and the brothers never saw a violent side.
Prior to their marriage, Farook had multiple online dating profiles claiming he was a Sunni Muslim from a “religious but modern family” and that he was “looking for a girl who has the same outlook, wear hijab, but live life to the fullest, be my partner for snowboarding, to go out and eat with friends, go camping, working on cars with me.”
Co-workers said Farook was reserved. They said he had grown his beard out in recent months – often a sign among Muslims of heightened religious devotion. He also had gotten into several heated arguments with a co-worker, Nicholas Thalasinos, about Islam. Thalasinos reportedly questioned whether Farook’s faith was truly a “religion of peace.” He was one of the 14 killed in Wednesday’s attack.
Neither Malik nor Farook had a criminal record, and the couple did not mix with the larger Pakistani-American community. Few people, including neighbors, claimed to have seen Malik, or to have even met her. The Pakistani-American Muslim community leader, who asked that his name not be used, said the community believes that someone radicalized Farook.
“This event has shaken everyone,” said the source. “The fact that Syed and his wife seemed to be so removed from the community and no one really knows much about him or his wife at all can often be a key indicator something is wrong.”