Officers in San Bernadino, California on a man hunt after the shooting.
(Photo: © Reuters)
With the investigation of the California shooting in its primary stages, what we do know about this horrific attack is that it was highly planned. The shooters were prepared: in dress — they donned “assault-style clothing” (described as dark, tactical garments) and body armor; with weapons — they chose AK-47 Kalashnikov semi-automatic rifles (or the equivalent) plus pistols; and with ammo – they were carrying multiple magazines and had planted explosive devices resembling pipe bombs.
Without ruling out other motives, law-enforcement officers say the facts of this case point to a terrorist attack. What we do know is that Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the shooters, “was very religious,” according to his father.
He had travelled to Saudi Arabia and returned with his wife, who he had reportedly met online.
A neighbor said Farook lived with his wife, mother and baby and “sounded really happy. I did notice there were lots of packages being dropped off and he was in the garage working on stuff.”
Larson had assumed they were Christmas packages, perhaps unaware of Farook’s religious beliefs. She says in retrospect she wonders if they were the munitions and other elements he needed for the attack.
Fellow workers say Farook was quiet and didn’t socialize with them. Those same workers had recently made a baby shower for him sometime after his now six-month-old child was born. In a list of workers and their salaries at the facility where Farook worked, he is listed as an environmental specialist with a salary of over $50,000.
Less is known about his wife, Tashfeen Malik, Farook’s accomplice and fellow shooter.
In the wake of the attack, U.S. President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley all immediately called for gun-control laws, not venturing into the territory of what makes another human being want to cause so much death and destruction with a gun.
Republican candidates initially offered prayers for the victims and their families, as well as law-enforcement officers in harm’s way. At a speaking engagement, Ben Carson pointedly asked, “What happened to our country? Where did that come from? I will tell you where it did not come from. It did not come from our Judeo-Christian values. It came from something else.”
If, indeed, the shootings turn out to be an Islamist terror attack, Carson’s questions need to be answered. The current administration’s policy of denying the ideological underpinning of the world’s current battle with worldwide terror is as dangerous as it is ridiculous.
Having an unidentified elephant in the room, a lurking “that-who-will-not-be-named” presence wreaking havoc in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people does not make it go away. On the contrary, it only empowers it.
By limiting the conversation to the voices of those recruiting and building a movement fueled by Islamist ideology, we have taken away one of our prime weapons to fight it: Our ability to refute it and offer an alternative.
Young people, possibly 28-year-old Farook and his 27-year-old wife, do not get radicalized in a vacuum. To borrow a common proverb, it takes a village. With the advent of modern technology and social media, that village has become global.
The fact that Islamist extremists have managed to influence and terrorize so much of the world is a testament to that fact.
Clarion Project is dedicated to having that conversation.
Radicalization in mosques is a number-one factor in swaying the opinion of young Muslims. See Clarion’s Islamist Organizations in America project and see if there is a radical mosque near you.