Terror group ISIS on its radio station said that the two Muslims who attacked a holiday party in California and killed 14 people are “followers.”
“Two followers of Islamic State attacked several days ago a center in San Bernadino in California,” the group’s daily broadcast al-Bayan said, according to Reuters.
Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik attacked a group of health officials, co-workers of Farook, in San Bernardino on December 2.
ISIS, also known as Daesh or ISIL, praised the attack.
“We pray to God to accept them as martyrs,” the radio station declared.
Officials are still investigating the motives behind the attack, but sources told multiple news agencies that Malik pledged allegiance to the leader of ISIS on Facebook just before carrying it out.
Based on the fact Farook, according to co-workers, changed after he arrived home from Saudi Arabia with Malik as his fiancee, officials say the likelihood is that she radicalized him.
But the terror group’s acknowledgement of Malik and Farook as supporters doesn’t mean they were members or that someone from the group helped them plan or ordered the attack, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Rick Francona told CNN.
ISIS typically calls attackers with direct connections “knights” or “soldiers.”
“What they’re calling these two are supporters, which is kind of a lesser level,” indicating it might not have had direct contact with the couple, Francona said.
But Nada Bakos, a former CIA analyst, told ABC News she would not be surprised if Malik had been ISIS-inspired. “Terrorism is not gender-specific,” she said.
A recent report by George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security said that of the 71 individuals arrested in the U.S. since March 2014 with purported ties to ISIS, 10 were female.
Bakos, whose work with the CIA concentrated on al Qaeda in Iraq, the precursor to ISIS, noted that al Qaeda tried to use a woman in a failed suicide attack in Jordan in 2005.
“Men don’t have a monopoly on terrorism or conducting violent acts,” she said. “At this point, in the evolution of terrorism, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a woman take an operational role.”