While not necessarily surprising at this point, the statement the Islamic State just made about Wednesday’s terrorist attack in San Bernardino is nonetheless chilling. Via radio broadcast this morning, the group is now claiming the husband and wife team who murdered 14 and injured 21 three days ago were actually followers of the Islamic State.
Islamic State said on Saturday that a married couple who killed 14 people in California in an attack the FBI is investigating as an “act of terrorism” were followers of the militant group based in Syria and Iraq.
The group’s declaration, in an online radio broadcast, came three days after U.S.-born Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his wife Tashfeen Malik, 29, a native of Pakistan, carried out the attack on a holiday party for civil servants in San Bernardino, about 60 miles (100 km) east of Los Angeles.
“Two followers of Islamic State attacked several days ago a center in San Bernadino in California,” the group’s daily online radio broadcast al-Bayan said on Saturday.
The broadcast came a day after Facebook confirmed that comments praising Islamic State were posted around the time of the mass shooting to an account on the social media website established by Malik under an alias.
CNN is reporting the group in its broadcast also prayed for the killers, saying “We pray to God to accept them as martyrs.”
An English-language version of the broadcast was later released calling the attackers “soldiers” of Islamic State, rather than “followers” as in the original Arabic version. It was unclear if the English version was claiming them as members, or why there was an inconsistency.
Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Rick Francona, a CNN military analyst and a former intelligence officer, suggested the Islamic State’s acknowledgment of Malik and Farook as supporters doesn’t mean they were members or that someone from the group ordered it.
ISIS, when claiming responsibility for other terrorist attacks, would call attackers “knights” or “soldiers” rather than supporters. It has, however, urged sympathizers to carry out attacks on their own.
“What they’re calling these two are supporters, which is kind of a lesser level,” indicating it might not have had direct contact with the couple, Francona said.
The statement from ISIS, if true, is perhaps the most direct link yet between the Islamic State and an attack within our own borders — confirming our worst fears. And making Wednesday’s attack indeed the deadliest Islamic terror attack in the U.S. since September 11, 2001.
Not to mention serving as a brutal punch line to the joke of our president saying just weeks ago that ISIS is “contained.” Perhaps he meant contained — as in existing — within our own borders…
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]