The couple involved in a massacre that left 14 people dead in San Bernardino, California, were radicalized before they met, the FBI chief said. His comments undercut theories that Tashfeen Malik radicalized her husband.
The director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said on Wednesday that the couple involved in the San Bernardino massacre on December 2 had been "radicalized" separately before they started dating.
"They were actually radicalized before they started…dating each other online, and as early as the end of 2013, they were talking to each other about jihad and martyrdom before they became engaged," FBI Director James Comey said at a hearing of the US Judiciary Committee.
This indicates that Syed Rizwan Farook's wife, Tashfeen Malik, was radicalized in Pakistan prior to obtaining a fiancée visa to travel to the US.
It also undermines theories that Malik, who reportedly pledged allegiance to the "Islamic State" militant group on Facebook, had radicalized her husband Farook.
Comey added that the FBI was "working very hard to understand whether there was anybody else involved with assisting them, with supporting them, with equipping them. And we're working very, very hard to understand, did they have other plans."
'Staggering array of threats'
The Senate committee's chairman, Republican Senator Charles Grassley, took the opportunity to criticize President Barack Obama, saying the shooting illustrated that the nation's leader was "spectacularly wrong" about the screening process for a US visa.
"Our government apparently didn't catch the false address in Pakistan that she listed on her application," the senator added.
Comey's comments on the San Bernardino shooting were part of a testimony on FBI oversight and what the security official described as "a staggering array of threats that face our country - in terrorism, in counterintelligence and in criminal matters."
ls/jil (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)