Terrorist Tashfeen Malik tried unsuccessfully to contact multiple Islamic militant groups in the months leading up to the San Bernardino attack, according to officials.
It also emerged on Thursday that Malik’s husband and accomplice, Syed Farook, may have had ties to a jihadi recruiter who was convicted last year in connection to a 2012 terrorist plot, and that both he and Malik were reportedly planning an even deadlier attack in California.
Two US government sources said multiple militant groups likely ignored Malik’s overtures because they have recently become extremely wary of responding to outsiders who they do not know or who have not been introduced to them out of fear of being caught in a sting operation.
The number of organizations that Malik attempted to approach and how she sought to reach them were unclear, though the groups almost certainly included al Qaeda’s Syria-based official affiliate, the Nusrah Front, the government sources said.
One source said investigators have little, if any, evidence that Malik or her husband had any direct contact with ISIS, even though the husband and wife had pledged allegiance to the extremist group in a Facebook posting just before the December 2 attack that killed 14 and wounded 21 others.
Unnamed sources familiar with the ongoing federal investigation told the Los Angeles Times that based digital devices recovered from Farook and Malik’s rental home in Redlands, California, last week, the FBI concluded that the couple were in the final stages of planning an attack on a location that housed significantly more people than the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, possibly a school or a college.
Following Farook and Malik’s deaths in a gun battle with police, officials discovered exterior shots of schools on the man’s cell phone, raising concerns that he may have been scoping out possible targets while working as an environmental mental health inspector.
Also on Thursday, FBI and sheriff’s divers began scouring Seccombe Lake in downtown San Bernardino, just a couple of miles from the site of last week’s terrorist attack, in search of a computer hard drive the couple were said to have discarded, according to unnamed sources speaking to CNN.
David Bowdich, assistant director of FBI’s Los Angeles field office, said investigators already have combed the surrounding park, and that the search of the lake could take days.
The FBI chief also confirmed that the agency was looking to see if Farook had links to Sohiel Kabir, a naturalized US citizen of Afghani descent who was sentenced earlier this year to 25 years for arranging for three men to travel to his native country to kill US troops.
Kabir, 37, was identified as the ringleader who converted two of the terror suspects to Islam after meeting them at a hookah bar and then recruiting them to provide material support to terrorists abroad.
Unnamed US officials told CNN that Farook was in Kabir’s social circle as the terror plot was being hatched in Riverside, California, not far from his hometown of in Redlands.
Read more: Daily Mail