Crime & Justice

San Bernardino attacker visa scrutinized by fed lawmakers

Tashfeen Malik, left, and Syed Farook, who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif., are being called supporters and martyrs by ISIS. The wife and husband team are seen here in photos provided by the FBI, left, and the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
Tashfeen Malik, left, and Syed Farook, who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif., are being called supporters and martyrs by ISIS. The wife and husband team are seen here in photos provided by the FBI, left, and the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
/AP

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The Republican-led House Judiciary Committee has released a copy of the fiance visa application used by the couple accused of killing 14 people in San Bernardino earlier this month.

The application, processed in early 2014, includes pixilated pictures of Tashfeen Malik and her soon-to-be husband Syed Rizwan Farook, but does not shed light on their commitment to Islamic extremism.

The FBI is investigating the December 2nd shooting at the Inland Regional Center as a terrorist attack. The couple was killed soon after the attack in a shootout with law enforcement.

The event sparked intense debate over the capabilities of US law enforcement and immigration officials to root out radicals planning violent attacks on American soil. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said this week that immigration officials did not thoroughly evaluate Malik, and representative is working on legislation to beef up security checks on visa applicants. 

"Visa security is critical to national security, and it’s unacceptable that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services did not fully vet Malik’s application and instead sloppily approved her visa," Goodlatte said in a statement.

Malik immigrated from Pakistan after sharing radical ideas online with Farook, according to the FBI. 

"Those communications are direct, private messages," James Comey, the director the FBI, said, according to NPR.

The visa application states only that the two met on a dating website and then in person in Saudi Arabia, where Farook and his parents met up with members of Malik's family to seal their engagement. 

The Farook family, according to the application, traveled to Mecca to complete the Hajj, a common Muslim pilgrimage. 

Lorenzo Vidino, the director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, said the information on the application does not raise any red flags, but immigration and law enforcement officials have many obstacles when trying to vet potential terrorists -- especially online.

Screeners would have juggle a variety of platforms and screen names, including aliases, as well as language barriers. 

"That information needs a good-old human touch to put it all together, make sense of it," Vidino said.