San Bernadino shooter's father tells Italian daily his son supported ISIS, obsessed over Israel

Syed Farook (left) in a photo from a student ID and his wife, Tashfeen Malik. in a photo released by the FBI.
Syed Farook (left) in a photo from a student ID and his wife, Tashfeen Malik. in a photo released by the FBI.PHOTO: AFP

The father of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook says he was aware that his son supported ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq in Syria) and shared the ideology of its leader, in an interview with the Sunday edition of Italy's La Stampa daily.

"My son said that he shared (ISIS leader Abu Bakr) Al Baghdadi's ideology and supported the creation of the Islamic State," said Syed Farook. "He was also obsessed with Israel."

"I told him he had to stay calm and be patient because in two years Israel will not exist any more. Geopolitics is changing: Russia, China and America don't want Jews there any more. They are going to bring the Jews back to Ukraine," he told the Italian newspaper's US correspondent Paolo Mastrolilli.

He said he told his son, who is suspected of carrying out the mass shooting that killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California last week: "What is the point of fighting? We have already done it and we lost. Israel is not to be fought with weapons, but with politics. But he did not listen to me, he was obsessed."

La Stampa said the interview was conducted with Farook in Corona, California, about 50 kilometres from the site of the mass shooting at a holiday party. Farook senior lives there with older son, Syed Raheel Farook,who is a US Navy veteran.

His younger son, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his Pakistani wife, Tashfeen Malik, 29, stormed the gathering of civil servants on Wednesday, opening fire with assault rifles. The pair were killed two hours later in a shootout with police SWAT team members.

Farook senior was born in Pakistan and emigrated to the United States in 1973. He told La Stampa that he went on to earn a degree in engineering and worked hard to guarantee his children "an education and the opportunity to succeed in life".

He denied accusations reported by The New York Times, that he was a violent father who beat his children and his wife, who divorced him in 2006.

"Rizwan's mother is very religious, as he was, and they united against me. Once we had a dispute over the historical figure of Jesus," Farook senior said in the La Stampa interview. "My son called me a godless person and he decided that my marriage with my wife had to end. They destroyed the family."

Meanwhile, Malik's family says she may have been a key influence on her American husband towards violence, as she appeared to have abandoned the family's moderate Islam and become more radicalised during years they spent in Saudi Arabia.

The elder Farook said he was in complete despair over his son's apparent role in the mass shooting.