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FBI investigating killings as 'act of terrorism'

10 months 2 weeks 3 days ago December 04, 2015 Dec 4, 2015 Friday, December 04 2015 December 04, 2015 1:52 PM in News
Source: Associated Press

SAN BERNARDINO - The FBI says it is investigating the deadly mass shooting in California as an "act of terrorism."

David Bowdich, assistant director of the FBI's Los Angeles office, made the declaration at a news conference Friday in California.

He also said the shooters attempted to destroy evidence, including crushing two cell phones and discarding them in a trash can. He said authorities continue to investigate the case to understand the motivations of the shooters and whether they were planning more attacks.

A Facebook executive told the Associated Press that one of the shooters, Tashfeen Malik, praised the leader of the Islamic State group in a post to the social media network minutes into the attack. Investigators said she and her husband, Syed Farook, killed 14 people at a holiday party at his workplace before dying in a gunbattle with police.

The executive said Malik made the post under an alias account at 11 a.m. Wednesday. That was about the time the first 911 calls came in and when the couple were believed to have stormed into the San Bernardino social service center and opened fire.

The company discovered the Facebook account Thursday. It removed the profile from public view and reported its contents to law enforcement.

The executive spoke on condition of anonymity because this person was not allowed under corporate policy to be quoted by name.

John Cohen, a former counterterrorism coordinator for the Homeland Security Department and a Rutgers University professor, said IS has aggressively used social media and have "successfully inspired thousands of people." He said the post suggests Malik was inspired by IS ideology but wasn't necessarily in direct touch with the group. 

Cohen says the counterterrorism infrastructure is built on preventing tightly organized attacks directed by a specific group, not detecting people inspired by IS but operating independently. He says that means different tools are needed to prevent those types of attacks.

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