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Tipsheet

FBI Director: No Indication San Bernardino Shooters Are Part Of Larger Group Or Cell

FBI Director James Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch held a news conference to update us on the horrific San Bernardino shooting, which is now being handed over to the FBI. The Department of Justice now says this is a federal terrorism investigation.

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Director Comey said that the investigation has indicated radicalization in the two shooters and the potential of being inspired by foreign terrorist organizations. He added that he was impressed by the response of local law enforcement. The San Bernardino SWAT team was conducting training exercises at the time of the attack, which allowed them to respond to the shooting within four minutes.

Right now, the FBI is going through a large volume of electronic evidence, which the shooters tried to conceal from authorities. Comey noted that his investigators aspire to do it quickly, but also well and carefully. He said that there is still a lot of evidence that doesn’t make sense, so time will be needed to further analyze these leads in order to pin point a motive.

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There is no indication that these shooters were part of a larger group, cell or network, but this investigation is only two days old. Comey cautioned the press by saying that it’s early, and that there was nothing in the FBI’s holdings regarding the two shooters that would raise their profile with the law enforcement organization prior to the shooting.

Comey added that we have hundreds of people running down leads all over the world on this shooting, and that they’re still trying to understand the electronic record. He said that he knows this awful even is very unsettling, but added that we shouldn’t let fear become disabling. Instead, channel it into an awareness of your surroundings.

Regarding the electronic evidence, Christine wrote earlier today that shooter Syed Farook’s wife–Tashfeen Malik–swore an oath of allegiance to ISIS on Facebook right before the two of them killed 14 people and wounded 21 at the Inland Regional Center (via NYT):

Investigators are scouring the contents of computers, cellphones and other devices belonging to Ms. Malik and Mr. Farook, including items they attempted to destroy and files they tried to erase; investigators found two cellphones, which had been crushed, in a trash can near their home.

“We are going through a very large volume of electronic evidence,” Mr. Comey said. “This is electronic evidence that these killers tried to destroy and tried to conceal from us.”

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Lastly, Malik was able to enter the country on a fiancé visa, which has added to concerns regarding the screening process–an issue that's become more salient since the U.S. agreed to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. There are legitimate fears that ISIS could feign refugee status to enter the United States.  

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