Syed Rizwan Farook, who with his wife killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, was apparently radicalized, officials say.
The radicalization played a part in his role in the mass shooting, law enforcement sources told CNN.
Farook traveled to Saudi Arabia for several weeks in 2013 and also traveled there earlier this year for about a month. After the latter trip, co-workers said he started growing out his beard, and returned with Tashfeen Malik.
Described as a devout Muslim, Farook stayed quiet at his work about his faith but was in touch with people being investigated by the FBI for international terrorism.
Farook’s trips to Saudi Arabia included the Hajj, an annual pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims are required to take at least once in their lifetime.
During the first trip, Farook met his wife Malik, a native of Pakistan who came to the United States on a “fiancee visa” and later became a permanent resident.
Farook was born in America but his parents immigrated from Pakistan.
Neither were known to the FBI or other law enforcement agencies as potential terrorists, and neither had any criminal records.
Sources: Male attack suspect appears to have been radicalized; was in touch with LA-area people who have expressed jihadist-oriented views.
— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) December 3, 2015
But Farook communicated by phone and social media with multiple people being investigated for terrorism, and a separate U.S. government official said the 28-year-old father had “overseas communications and associations.” Sources also told NBC that Farook appears to have been radicalized, and was in touch with people in the Los Angeles area who have expressed jihadist-oriented views.
An official confirmed with the Associated Press that investigators are trying to determine how Farook became radicalized and whether he was in contact with any foreign terrorist orgnaization.
Still, officials aren’t sure what part Farook’s religion played in the attack. President Barack Obama indicated the FBI is conducting an investigation that focuses primarily on the motive, and noted a workplace dispute may be a part of it.
Farook and his wife killed 14 people at a holiday for health officials. Farook was a health inspector. He was seen arguing with someone at the party before returning later with Malik and starting to shoot.
Both are dead after a high-speed chase culminated with a shootout with police.