This isn’t very surprising to anyone except the media, at this point, but the female shooter from Wednesday’s attack in San Bernardino apparently took time out from slaughtering 20 innocent people to pledge her allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of ISIS, on Facebook.
Investigators think that as the San Bernardino, California, attack was happening, female shooter Tashfeen Malik posted a pledge of allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Facebook, three U.S. officials familiar with the investigation told CNN.
Malik’s post was made on an account with a different name, one U.S. official said. The officials did not explain how they knew Malik made the post.
A law enforcement official said it appeared that Wednesday’s attack — which left 14 people dead and 21 wounded before the two attackers, Malik and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, were killed in a shootout with police — may have been inspired by ISIS. But none of the officials said that ISIS directed or ordered the attack.
This makes the motive behind the attacks pretty clear, but there remains the question of conversation, which will affect whether this is considered international terrorism or domestic terrorism. It’s not unheard of for people to “self-radicalize,” that is, abide by the terms of ISIS and worship its leadership – even, as in this case, going so far as to commit a heinous act in its name – but without the direct knowledge of the organization itself. Not that that really matters to ISIS; I’m sure they’re more than happy to take responsibility for bloodshed on American soil.
It makes some sense that they were self-radicalized. A health department Christmas party isn’t exactly a “high-impact” target, though it seems that we can piece together the beginnings of a rationale as to why they might have selected that particular event, given that Farook had gotten into several tiffs with co-workers over his affiliations. But there’s also some evidence that the party bombing was part of a bigger plot – the two shooters had scads of ammunition in their apartment and plenty of pipe bombs. Who is to say that their plans weren’t more complex, but got interrupted by the need to satisfy a personal tiff? A “moved-up” timeline might explain why authorities didn’t catch on to the couple’s plans: they weren’t fully fleshed out yet.
Whatever happens, we at least know this: the narrative that originally surrounded this incident is and was fully and completely incorrect.