FBI Director James Comey called on calling on people to speak to authorities if they see something that “doesn’t make sense”. Photo: AP/File A bizarre spectacle played out on a suburban street in San Bernardino on Friday morning when reporters were allowed into the flat of Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik. Baby food was among the everyday items on show. Photo: Nick O’Malley
US Muslims feel backlash after Paris and California attacksMayhem at suspected shooters’ apartmentMotive a mysteryTashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farook leave baby behind
San Bernardino: The FBI director James Comey has confirmed the agency is now treating Wednesday’s San Bernardino mass shooting as an act of terrorism, but added there was no evidence yet the two suspects were part of a terrorist cell.
“This is now a federal terrorism investigation led by the FBI and the reason for that is that the investigation so far has developed indications of radicalisation by the killers and of a potential inspiration by foreign terrorist organisations,” he said on Friday.
Mr Comey’s comments came after the assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, David Bowdich, confirmed one of the two suspected killers, Tashfeen Malik, had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist group in a Facebook post before the attack.
A Facebook executive told the Associated Press Malik posted the material under an alias at 11am on Wednesday. That was about the time the first 911 calls were received and when the couple was believed to have stormed into the social service centre and opened fire during a workplace Christmas party in San Bernardino, California.
She and her husband Syed Rizwan Farook were killed in a gunfight with police after the attack that left 14 of Farook’s work colleagues dead and 21 wounded.
“There’s a number of pieces of evidence that essentially pushed us off the cliff to say we’re investigating this as a terrorist event,” he said.
Mr Bowdich said investigators were seeking to extract data from two mobile phones the couple had apparently sought to destroy in order to obscure their digital tracks. He said the phones could prove to be a “golden nugget” in the investigation.
“Digital media should lead us to motivation, which should lead us … to human intelligence,” he said.
Earlier he suggested it was possible the couple – who assembled a stockpile of ammunition, guns and homemade explosives – had been preparing for an attack on another location before deciding to assault the party.
Mr Comey also suggested that not all the information gathered far so fitted the normal profile of a terrorist attack.
“There’s a lot of evidence in this case that doesn’t quite make sense and so we’re trying to be very thoughtful to understand it and to make sense of it, so we understand the full extent of what we have here,” he said.
Mr Comey called on Americans not to give in to fear.
“What we hope you will do is not let fear become disabling but to instead try to channel it into an awareness of your surroundings” he said, calling on people to speak to authorities if they see something that “doesn’t make sense”.
“We investigate in secret so that we don’t smear innocent people,” he said.
“We don’t run over and bang on your neighbour’s door. If you say something, we investigate. If there was nothing there, no harm done.”
The attacks have prompted further debate in America, with many calling for increased gun control and others demanding greater immigration restrictions and even freer access to weapons.
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