Californian couple took out loan before mass killings

SAN BERNARDINO (California) • A married couple who killed 14 people, in a California shooting rampage which the FBI is investigating as an act of terrorism, borrowed about US$28,000 (S$39,000) from an online lender, a sum deposited into their bank account about two weeks before the attack, sources said.

The disclosure of the unsecured loan that the husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, took out from Prosper, a San Francisco-based peer-to-peer lending service, offered investigators a new glimpse into the money trail of last week's mass shooting.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has described Farook, the US-born son of Pakistani immigrants, and his Pakistani-born wife, Tashfeen Malik, 29, as a couple "radicalised" by extremist ideology.

Tashfeen, who spent a good portion of her life in Saudi Arabia and married Farook there before returning with him to California in the summer of 2014, is believed by investigators to have pledged allegiance on Facebook to the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group just before the killings.

Her extremist views took form before she came to the United States, but it remains to be determined whether she and her husband were indoctrinated by other individuals, the FBI has said.

The authorities say the heavily armed couple opened fire on Farook's co-workers from the county Environmental Health Department during a holiday party at the Inland Regional Centre in San Bernardino.

Fourteen people were killed and 21 wounded. The couple died several hours later in a shootout with police.

Meanwhile, state marital records examined by Reuters revealed that the man said by the authorities to have furnished the couple with the two assault-style rifles used in the attack was related by marriage to Farook's family.

Mr Enrique Marquez, who was being questioned by federal investigators on Tuesday, last year married Ms Mariya Chernykh, whose sister is married to Farook's older brother Raheel Farook.

Separately, two US senators have introduced a Bill that would compel tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter to warn law enforcement agencies when they detect terrorist activity on their platforms.

The Bill is based on similar legislation already used to fight online child pornography.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2015, with the headline 'Californian couple took out loan before mass killings'. Print Edition | Subscribe