It was just another day in San Bernadino, California. There was an office party taking place in a treatment center for people with disabilities, when one of the co-workers stormed out. Syed Farook was a five-year employee of the company, and had recently visited Saudi Arabia after meeting his new wife online. The couple had a child, who they had both dropped off at their grandparents that morning. The couple then proceeded to engage in one of the most violent attacks our nation has experienced all year. They opened fire in the regional center where they killed a total of 14 people while injuring another 21. Authorities struggled to determine whether or not international terrorism was a factor or not, while Obama released a statement expressing how the mass shooting was a part of a pattern of shootings that had “no parallel anywhere else in the world.” The shooting ended with a shootout between the attackers and the LAPD, leaving the two attackers dead.
Tashfeen Malik was the wife of Syed Farook, and the other gunmen in the attack. She was born and raised in Pakistan and lived in Saudi Arabia. She was able to come to the United States with a “fiancee” visa. The couple had a 6 month old daughter, who I previously mentioned was dropped off at their grandparents house. It was on Farook’s second trip to Saudi Arabia that he married Malik, and she returned with him. She was described as a reserved, shy woman. She was not on any list of potentially radicalized individuals. She was just a practicing Muslim, doing the 5 prayers a day but nothing out of the ordinary. After the shooting a FaceBook post revealed Malik declaring her loyalty to the leader of ISIS.
ISIS declared the shooters as “supporters” of ISIS, but they did not say the shooters were members or that ISIS was responsible. “We pray to God to accept them as martyrs,” ISIS’ al-Bayan Radio declared Saturday. There are claims that Malik professed her loyalty to the Islamist network during the shootings, but ISIS calling them “supporters” is a lesser level of allegiance, indicating ISIS most likely did not have direct contact with the couple. ISIS, when claiming responsibility for other terrorist attacks, would call attackers “knights” or “soldiers” rather than supporters.
There were many fatalities, and a heroic story emerged from one of the tragic deaths. Shannon Johnson shielded Denise Peraza with his own body. Johnson was killed during the attack but Peraza was only injured. “I will always remember his left arm wrapped around me, holding me as close as possible next to him behind that chair,” she said. “And amidst all the chaos, I’ll always remember him saying these three words, “I got you.”
This is one of the many mass shootings that have happened in America this year. Many people are demanding a call to action, saying prayer is not enough anymore. I hope that our leaders will make the right decisions to help keep our country safe.