The FBI has confirmed that they are now investigating the shooting in San Bernardino as an act of terrorism. David Bowdich, assistant director to the FBI’s Los Angeles location, said the agency will move forward with that designation on the same day that officials revealed that one of the shooters had pledged allegiance to the head of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the terrorist organization behind the Paris attacks in November.
“We are now investigating these horrific acts as an act of terrorism,” Bowdich said at a press conference. He said authorities have retained evidence that led the FBI to learn of how much planning was involved prior to the attack, which left 14 dead and another 21 injured.
The FBI won’t state if the terrorism is linked to ISIS or if they were acting on their own using the self-proclaimed caliphate as inspiration. When asked if this meant it was the first attack by ISIS on U.S. soil, Bowdich said that it would be a “leap” to call it that at this moment. If confirmed that it was Islamic-based terrorism, it would be the deadliest act of that kind since the September 11 attacks that took down the World Trade Center and hit the Pentagon.
It would also be a striking blow to President Barack Obama’s credibility and record regarding foreign policy and homeland security, two areas where he has been under attack from conservatives without evidence – until now – to back them up.
Earlier in the day, the FBI confirmed that Tashfeen Malik, the wife of Syed Farook and the second shooter, had pledged allegiance to the emir of ISIS on Facebook. The post was taken down prior to the attacks, but authorities were able to recover the evidence after the fact.
Reuters is also reporting that an agency affiliated with ISIS is taking credit for the attack, saying followers of the group were the ones who carried out the attacks.
“I’m not surprised (about the information),” Bowdich said. “It only helps them to be able to attach themselves to an act like this.”
“What I can tell you is, we are not away of any further threats in the U.S. at this time,” he later said.
Earlier on Friday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest would not comment on the specifics of the investigation, deferring those questions to the FBI, but did try to defend the administration’s policies regarding counterterrorism.
“Let me just say in general that the president and our national security officials have talked about how challenging it is to disrupt particularly lone wolf attacks. And that is work that has drawn the intense focus of law enforcement, bot at the state and federal level. This is obviously something that the intelligence community is focused on, as well. But if you take a look at the track record, and particularly the important work that is done by the FBI and the Department of Justice, their record of disrupting these kinds of plans before they’re carried out is good and should give the American people confidence in the capabilities that we have and in the resources that are used to confront this threat.”
The attack came less than a month after the Paris attacks carried out by an ISIS cell based in Belgium, where citizens of Belgium and France shot and killed 130 people on behalf of the terrorist group.
Because of the strange nature of the San Bernardino attacks, however, two narratives have emerged on the campaign trail: Republicans who are focused on the Islamic background of Farook and Malik, and Democrats who are urging stricter gun control measures.