Los Angeles

Attorneys: Family of Alleged Gunman Wasn't Aware of Possible Extremist Ties

"When someone goes crazy and commits an act that's totally work-related, it doesn't make a statement on behalf of an entire religion."

The family of the alleged gunman in the San Bernardino massacre had no idea he and his wife had possible extremist ties, which authorities are now investigating, two attorneys said on Friday.

The attorneys for Syed Rizwan Farook's family condemned associating the crime with Islam and urged against jumping to conclusions over religious or extremist motivations just because authorities say his wife posted at an extremist message on Facebook.

Authorities have said Tashfeen Malik pledged her allegiance to an ISIS leader in a Facebook post. She and her husband are accused of killing 14 people and wounding 21 more at a San Bernardino health facility on Wednesday.

"I've checked out a Britney Spears post and I hate Britney Spears. It doesn't mean you condone what you look at or read," attorney David Chesley said.

The attorneys said that not only did the family not know of any extremist tendencies from Farook and Malik despite visits to their house, which is now a crime scene, they said that the FBI was unable to provide any evidence of links during a four-hour interview with family members.

"No one (in the meeting) could identify any links or any radical or extremist behavior," Chesley said.

Farook, 28, and Malik, 27, were killed in a gunbattle with police about seven hours after the initial shooting at the Inland Regional Center, which provides treatment for people with developmental disabilities. The couple had a 6-month-old daughter.

Wednesday's rampage is now being investigated as an "act of terrorism," the FBI said.

The couple's family was aware that they had guns but believed the guns were locked up, attorney Mohammad Abuershaid said. They had been in the garage, reportedly a bomb-making facility, and saw nothing suspicious, he said.

Abuershaid said the family was very traditional, where visiting men would sit with the men and women would sit with the women. Additionally, Malik spoke very broken English.

Farook's mother lived at the home, but didn't go downstairs much, the attorneys said.

"There was a mention that he was teased about his beard, but there was nothing else about that," Abuershaid said. "When someone goes crazy and commits an act that's totally work-related, it doesn't make a statement on behalf of an entire religion."

Farook left the infant with his mother early Wednesday morning, claiming he was taking his wife to a doctor's visit and didn't want to bring the baby along, according to Hussam Ayloush, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Los Angeles, who said he'd spoken to Farook's brother-in-law.

Farook was born in the United States to Pakistani parents and was a five-year employee of the San Bernardino County public health agency, which was holding a holiday party when the shooting erupted.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Farook traveled to Saudi Arabia last year, spent nine days there, and returned with a new wife, a Pakistani, whom he met online.

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