By Fazal Rahman, Ph.D. December 11, 2015
The December 2, 2015 attack on the Department of Public Health employees of San Bernardino County in California, at a gathering at the Inland Regional Center, has been alleged to have been carried out by Syed Rizwan Farook, who was also employed by the same department, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, which killed fourteen people and injured twenty-two. It is being portrayed as a terrorist act by the news media, politicians, FBI, and others. FBI has strained maximally to find a link between the alleged attackers and Islamic State or other terrorist groups. It has failed to find any credible evidence for that. Some dubious claim was made that someone had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State on the Facebook around the time of the attack. They attribute that to Tashfeen Malik, claiming that she had used a false name to do that. It is highly unlikely. She was a devout Muslim and such false impersonation would be against her beliefs. Moreover, if she was carrying out or about to carry out such a suicidal mission, she had no reason to hide her identity. All types of rumors and speculations are being spread to support the predetermined assumption that it was the same kind of terrorist act as that of the recent Paris attacks in France, for which the Islamic State did claim responsibility. However, there are some fundamental differences between the two. In the Paris attacks, the Islamic State related attackers killed and injured people whom they did not know personally, and there were no personal conflicts involved. It was clearly an action in response to France’s bombardments and other military actions against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, mixed with generalized anger and resentment of the actual perpetrators of that act against the racist, religious, and economic discrimination against very large communities of Muslims in France and other parts of Europe. In case of San Bernardino attack, Syed Rizwan Farook worked with the victims and knew them personally. Some extremely relevant information about his own racist and religious discriminatory victimization by his colleagues, and its possible role in the attack, has been greatly downplayed by almost everyone. Originally there was some brief mention of some derogatory and insulting statements about Islam, made to Farook, at the Inland Regional Center gathering, by some of his colleagues, after which he left the party. However, that item soon disappeared from the news. After he left the party, some attackers with ski masks and black tactical gear appeared there and started shooting at those present there. The shooting lasted about four minutes and around 70 bullets were fired. They left the scene before the police arrived. At first, there were reports of three white male attackers, which were later changed to two. No one actually saw the faces of the attackers.
Another little squeak also appeared for a while, indicating that Farook was harassed at work for his beard, which was also related to his Islamic religious appearance. It is very likely that such harassment was much more than that, involving both his religion and race. The souls of devout Muslims like Farook and Malik are Islamicized to such a degree that any insult to Islam would be felt most intensely and provoke maximum anger, hatred, and violent feelings and actions. For example, any insults to Islam, its Prophet Mohammad, or the Holy Book, Quran, in Pakistan and Afghanistan, frequently lead to lynchings and other forms of killings by the mobs, whose religious passions become uncontrollable and who take such matters into their own hands. Also, there are most severe and harsh laws against blasphemy in some Muslim countries, including death penalties.
Some of the speculations of authorities, media, and others involve a deposit of “huge” amount of $28, 500 into Farook’s bank account, two weeks before the shootings. Later, it was changed to $24,500. It turned out that it was money that Farook had borrowed from a San Francisco based lending agency, Prosper. Apparently, originally it was hoped that some nefarious source of that transaction would be discovered. Also, two transfers of $5,000 each to his mother before the shootings are supposed to be evidence that these were being planned before the gathering and party at the Inland Regional Center. These $10,000 transfers are supposed to have been meant for taking care of the needs of his mother and their 6-month old baby, after their departure from this world! How long $10,000 can last in expensive California? Perhaps, a few months at the most.
A childhood friend of Farook, Marquez, who is being treated for mental illness at a mental health facility, is being investigated intensively by the law enforcement personnel. He has been reported to have told them that Farook had made plans with him for some attack in 2012, but never went through with it. How credible can such a statement be under such enormous pressures and threats of prosecution and long-time imprisonment of a person, who is already mentally ill and is being treated for that by the psychiatrists?
After law enforcement agencies located the vehicle, in which Farook and Malik were riding, they cornered it with multiple BearCat armored personnel carriers. Seven police agencies were involved in the final shootout, with 23 officers firing many hundreds of rounds, killing them in less than a minute. The obvious question that arises here is why the police did not try to capture them alive, instead of killing them in less than a minute? They were hopelessly cornered and could have been captured very easily, with some minimal of planning and usage of minimal intelligence. Among other such tactics, Farook’s mother and/or some Muslim religious leaders could have been brought there to talk them into giving themselves in to the police. Farook and Malik had no chance to escape or fight back with such superior law enforcement forces. If there was any suspicion of foreign-related terrorism, every effort should have been made to capture them alive.
It has also been reported that the windows of their vehicle were found to be rolled up. It is hard to imagine how they could fire at the police from inside the car, with the windows rolled up, as the police is claiming. Also their dead bodies were found to be handcuffed.
This whole tragedy, and its handling by the law enforcement, media, politicians, and others, raises enormous questions, some of them mentioned above. Why are they not being asked?
The real nature and causes of the San Bernardino crime are not clear, in spite of all the cross-institutional efforts to characterize it as a terrorist act, committed by two Muslim extremists.
Both Farook and Malik were college graduates, Farook having a degree in environmental health sciences and Malik, in addition to her religious education, having a degree in pharmaceutical sciences. Both had backgrounds in sciences as well as in Islamic religion.
Logically, it is impossible to believe that they carried out the suicidal mission together, leaving their 6-month old baby at the mercy of this cruel, callous, and unjust society, which is overflowing with all types of evils and injustices, including various discriminatory practices and racist mass psychology. Also, being intimately familiar with Muslim culture and mass psychology, it is very hard to believe that Farook would have involved or consented to his wife’s participation in the operation.
If Farook and Malik indeed carried it out, it was very likely the result of overreaction to religious and racist discrimination and insults by some of Farook’s colleagues. The anger may have been accumulating over time and exploded with a trigger at the party. The basis of this terrorist act would then be the work-related religious and racist discrimination and insults, instead of any foreign-related or domestic political terrorism. Regardless of the real nature of the act, huge hysterias are being whipped up against Muslims in the US as well as everywhere else. The Republican front runner for the presidential nomination, Donald Trump, is crossing all the boundaries of sanity, logic, and common sense in this regard, even advocating a ban on Muslims coming to the US and enhanced surveillance of those who live here, including those who are citizens or permanent residents! Any thinking or feeling person should be revolted and concerned in the extreme at such explosion of insanity and stupidity by a front runner presidential candidate. However, in this country, support of Trump is increasing because of that! What does it say about the sanity and mass psychology of the American electorate?
Some of my above statements, in regard to the San Bernardino incident being a terrorist act, need to be clarified and qualified. Both state terrorism and non-state terrorism are usually carried out in the service of politico-economic objectives, sometime in the name of religion and under religious organizational forms. Can work-related, mass school and other shootings for no apparent reasons, attacks on Planned Parenthood, or interpersonal violence, even if these involve numerous victims, be classified as forms of terrorism? Such attacks have been numerous in the US and the attackers have almost always been White Christians. These have not been considered acts of terrorism, even though in some of them, the numbers of victims were higher than those in the San Bernardino attack, which has been blamed on a Muslim couple, Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik. Everyone is jumping up to condemn it as an act of terrorism, even though there is no evidence of any politico-economic objectives or connections with any foreign or domestic non-state or state terrorist organizations. The FBI is now searching the bottom of a lake in San Bernardino, which is contaminated will all kinds of junk, to “find” some evidence. It has been reported that it is most interested in finding some computer hard-drives, which may have been thrown into the lake by Farook and his wife. Why would anyone throw an intact hard-drive anywhere, if they want to keep its contents unknown? Anyone with a minimum of common sense would open the drive, break it up, crush it into pieces, and then get rid of it far from where they live, by burying it or throwing it into a river, lake, or garbage. One can even destroy it by placing it in the oven at high temperatures. We will have to wait and see what the FBI comes up with. It will be very easy to put the desired contents on a hard-drive and claim that it belonged to Farook or his wife and was found in the lake or somewhere else.
The fact that the act was committed against Farook’s coworkers clearly points to the work-related causes, if it was indeed committed by Farook and his wife, as is being claimed by the law enforcement agencies and others. In that case, it would be a case of violent crime, but cannot be classified as a terrorist act. Among other things, they are committing blatant discrimination against Muslims by straining maximally to characterize it as a terrorist act, and ignoring and downplaying all the evidence that, if carried out by Farook and his wife, the causes were work-related religious and racist discrimination and harassment. If Farook and Tashfeen wanted to carry out an act of terrorism for politico-economic or religious reasons, on behalf of Islamic State or any other organization, Farook’s coworkers would be the last group they would consider targeting, as, besides killing fourteen and injuring twenty-two people, what did the act accomplish? Nothing for Muslims or Islam, but a lot for Islamophobes and racists. On the other hand, if it was committed for work-related personal reasons, then it accomplished a great deal for them, personally, if it was done by them. For an act of terrorism, they could and would have chosen much better and meaningful targets.