This is the face of the Muslim mother-turned-killer who along with her husband murdered 14 in San Bernardino in what the FBI is now calling an ‘act of terrorism’.
The first picture of Tashfeen Malik, 27, was unearthed as the agency’s director also revealed there is no indication that the husband and wife hit team were part of a larger plot or members of a terror cell.
Attorneys representing the couple’s family, Mohammad Abuershaid and Daniel Chesley, shed further insight into Malik’s life saying that she wore a burka, didn’t speak to male relatives and her in-laws had never seen her face.
At a press conference on Friday the attorneys also revealed that the Muslim couple met through a marriage and dating website some time in 2013 and wed in California the following year.
Abuershaid said that family members saw Malik as a ‘very private’, soft-spoken and caring housewife. He added that Malik spoke broken English.
‘They were very traditional. When family would come over, the women would sit with the women and the men would sit with the men, so the men had never spoken to her,’ Abuershaid said. ‘[Malik] wore a burka, so she was never seen by the men.’
He said that very little is known about Malik and her family, who are believed to be in Saudi Arabia.
‘She was a very, very private person. She kept herself isolated and she was very conservative,’ Chelsey added. ‘Because everyone knows so little, she’s easy to pin things to.’
Malik studied to be a pharmacist in Pakistan, but did not work in the field in the United States, where she instead lived as a housewife with she and Farook’s six-month-old baby.
She also chose not to drive voluntarily, Abuershaid said.
The attorney added that Farook’s mother lived in the upstairs area of the couple’s home and did not have knowledge of the planned attack on Wednesday.
The FBI announced Friday that it is investigating the mass shooting as an act of terrorism but said they did not believe the Muslim couple were part of a larger plot or members of a terror cell.
If the investigation confirms those initial suspicions, the attack would be the deadliest inspired by Islamic extremism on U.S. soil since September 11.
While authorities did not cite specific evidence that led them to the terrorism focus, a U.S. law enforcement official said that Malik, had under a Facebook alias pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and its leader al-Baghdadi.
A Facebook official said Malik praised Islamic State in a post at 11am Wednesday, around the time the couple stormed the Inland Regional Center where staff were enjoying a holiday party and opened fire. The profile was quickly removed from public view and its contents reported to law enforcement.
David Bowdich, assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles office, said on Friday that the shooters attempted to destroy evidence, including crushing two cell phones and discarding them in a trash can.
The FBI chief also had established that there were ‘telephonic connections’ between the couple and other people of interest in FBI probes.
Meanwhile friends have revealed that they knew Farook by his quick smile, his devotion to Islam and his talk about restoring cars.
They say they didn’t know he was busy with his wife building pipe bombs and stockpiling thousands of rounds of ammunition for the assault on Farook’s colleagues from San Bernardino County’s health department.
Speaking at the Dar Al Uloom Al Islamiyah-Amer mosque, where Farook worshipped, assistant teacher Roshan Abassi said that Malik ‘dressed modestly and didn’t show her face’.
‘He [Farook] hasn’t come to our mosque for a while, it’s been around a month,’ Abassi said ‘Even if she [Malik] would come, I couldn’t see her because she was modestly dressed, she didn’t show her face.’
He said he had spent some time speaking with Farook but claimed conversation was limited to pleasantries.
‘He would say hello, how are you, what’s up, what are your future goals,’ he explained.
Fellow worshipper Nasser Shehata said he spoke to Farook regularly and described him as ‘very quiet and shy’.
‘He worked in the area but he lived in Riverside,’ he said. ‘He was a very quiet person, on the shy side. He prayed and he would leave.
‘Two years [ago] he went to Saudi Arabia and married his wife but he didn’t get radicalized there.
‘Six months ago, he was very happy when his daughter was born and he looked forward to having a life with his daughter. Something changed in the last six months.’
Nizaaam Ali, an acquaintance of Farook, told CNN that Farook never spoke of Malik and rarely spoke of their child – not even announcing the baby’s birth.
Ali said Farook would come for the noon prayer each day during his lunch break from work.
‘He was such a sweet young man,’ Ali told CNN. ‘Everyone who knew him always talked so highly of him. Until today. To try and understand this, it’s really difficult for us.’
Ali was one of the 300 people that attended the wedding of Farook and Malik in August 2014 at the mosque.
However he said Farook ‘never’ brought his wife him to pray, because he would come from work, and when Ali did see Malik, she was always completely covered by a niqab.
‘I wouldn’t have been able to tell the color of her eyes even,’ Ali told CNN. ‘Was she skinny, was she fit? I don’t know. I never saw her. (Farook) never described her. He never said anything about her.’
At this stage in the investigation, officials say it appears the couple were inspired by ISIS, rather than expressly ordered to carry out the attacks.
Some investigators believe Malik and Farook were self-radicalized, but it is also possible that someone may have motivated them.
Malik moved to Saudi Arabia from Pakistan about 25 years ago but returned home to study to become a pharmacist, according to two Pakistani officials. She had two brothers and two sisters and was related to Ahmed Ali Aulak, a former provincial minister.
Malik was from the Layyah district in southern Punjab province, the officials said. She returned to Pakistan five or six years ago to complete a degree from Bahauddin Zakariya University in Multan.
An online transcript from Bahauddin Zakariya University uncovered by Daily Mail Online on Friday shows Malik scored 74.88 out of 100 on one of her pharmacy exams.
Read more: Daily Mail