The San Bernardino Shooters: Husband and Wife Psycho Team

These are the faces of evil. Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik stoked a dark silent hatred into mass murder.

He was 28 years old and a successful professional. His wife was a pharmacist who weighed a whopping 90 pounds. The two of them had a six-month-old daughter and no known nefarious affiliations, criminal records, or suspicious travel habits. However, on December 2, 2015, these two archetypal terrorists committed senseless premeditated cold-blooded mass murder.

Farook’s father was a drunkard and a bully. His mother fled with the three children to escape his physical and emotional abuse.

Syed Rizwan Farook was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1986, the son of Pakistani immigrants. Farook’s father was abusive towards his mother, and his childhood was difficult. He graduated a year early from High School and subsequently earned a degree in environmental health. On a dating website, he listed target practice as one of his hobbies.

Farook was well-acquainted with the victims of his pitiless rampage. This unflattering driver’s license photo was shot in 2013, two years before the attack.

Farook had worked for the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health for five years and knew his coworkers well. Two weeks before the Christmas party he had attempted to explain to a coworker how Islam was a religion of peace. He was a dedicated Sunni Muslim who had completed the hajj to Saudi Arabia in 2013.

Tashfeen Malik met Farook online and came to America ostensibly to marry him.

Farook’s wife Tashfeen Malik was a native of Pakistan but was raised in Saudi Arabia. She held a degree in Pharmacology from the Bahauddin Zakariya University and had attended an intensive 18-month Quranic study at an all-female religious academy. Farook and Malik met online and were married in 2014. She passed three aggressive Homeland Security screenings before being allowed to enter the country on a K-1 (fiancée) visa. Malik was a deeply committed practitioner of her faith, wearing both a burqa and niqab and encouraging others to do likewise.

The Shooting

The Inland Regional Center is typically used to serve individuals with developmental disabilities and is the very manifestation of altruism. On December 2, 2015, Farook’s coworkers had rented a conference room for a professional workshop and annual Christmas party.

The couple dropped off their infant daughter with Farook’s mother claiming they were going to a doctor’s appointment. Farook then went to the Inland Regional Center, a government-funded non-profit multi-use facility, dressed in civilian clothes and carrying a backpack. He lingered for two hours but seemed distracted throughout. He then consulted his phone and got up to leave. Before departing he posed for photographs with his coworkers. He abandoned his day pack on the table near his seat.

This is the gun belt one of the shooters wore during the attack. Note the two 30-round magazines taped back-to-back.

At around 11:00 Farook and Malik approached the facility, now dressed in black and heavily armed. They wore tactical vests carrying spare magazines but had no body armor. Outside the building, they shot and killed two of Farook’s coworkers.

One of the shooters’ victims had fled the likes of this to come to America in search of a better life.

Over the next three minutes, the two terrorists fired about one hundred rounds and killed fourteen helpless civilians between the ages of 26 and 60. Three of the victims were refugees who had come to America from Iran, Vietnam, and Eritrea to escape persecution. They wounded another twenty-two.

The activated sprinkler system made the chaotic scene extra horrible.

Almost all of the victims were shot in the back. One man was killed while shielding a coworker with his body. Three men attempted to intervene but were gunned down. One round struck a sprinkler in the building and activated the fire suppression system, contributing to the visceral chaos of the scene.

ISIS hates pretty much everybody. The two terrorists aped their ISIS mentors’ black uniforms.

Eyewitnesses reported that they recognized Farook based on his habitus. We can therefore only assume words were exchanged during the shooting. Witnesses also reported that they recognized the second shooter as female based upon her tight clothing and small stature.

The first officers on the scene entered the building without hesitation intending to engage the shooters.

The first police officer was onsite three minutes and thirty-two seconds after the initial 911 call. The first four LE officers responded appropriately by entering the building immediately and sweeping it for the shooters. They rightfully ignored the pleas of the wounded, instead prioritizing the neutralization of the threat. The San Bernardino SWAT team happened to be nearby on a training exercise and arrived eleven minutes after the initial call. 57 minutes later the last of the wounded were evacuated to area hospitals.

Here’s a screenshot from Al Qaeda’s Inspire Magazine. These freaking losers apparently put out a regular instructional periodical on how to murder innocent people.

The rucksack abandoned by Farook contained a series of three pipe bombs primed with Christmas lights and wired into a radio-controlled car. Apparently Farook got the plans for his IED from Al Qaeda’s Inspire Magazine, an online DIY terrorism manual. These devices were intended to be detonated upon the arrival of rescue personnel. They failed to explode and were later neutralized by a bomb disposal team.

The Shootout

Farook had rented a Black Ford Expedition like this one with Utah plates to be used during the operation.

Farook and Malik escaped the scene in a rented black Ford Expedition. A witness to the shooting fingered Farook as the shooter, and police identified the rental SUV in short order. Plainclothes officers set up surveillance at the terrorists’ home and spotted them leaving some four hours after the attack. Roughly half the world’s cops then closed in on the two fleeing psychopaths.

The two terrorists had loaded their vehicle with ample weapons and ammunition. Authorities postulated that the Inland Regional Center massacre was but the first act in a larger series of attacks.

During their attempted escape the terrorists threw a dummy pipe bomb out of their vehicle at pursuing officers. Police eventually stopped the vehicle in a residential neighborhood. Farook and Malik exited their respective sides of the SUV and immediately engaged Law Enforcement officers. Their movements seemed coordinated and professional.

The final shootout was brief, violent, and gory.

Seven LE agencies were involved in the final gun battle. 23 officers fired 440 rounds, and the terrorists answered with 81 rounds of their own. When the dust settled both terrorists were dead. Authorities found nearly 2,500 rounds of .223 and 9mm ammunition unused in the vehicle. They also discovered medical supplies and the trigger for their failed bomb.

The Guns

Farook’s S&W M&P rifle was accessorized and modified to circumvent California’s ludicrous assault weapon rules. This legal gun was bought illegally and then illegally modified by the criminal who used it to do illegal things.

Farook carried a Smith and Wesson M&P AR-15 rifle that he had tried and failed to convert to full auto. His M&P sported a 16-inch barrel, flash suppressor, and forward handgrip along with a cheap red dot optic and single point sling. If you look really closely at the photograph of the gun you can just make out the autosear hole that was apparently drilled improperly.

Farook died clutching this two-tone Springfield Armory pistol.

Farook’s sidearm was a Springfield Armory XDM 9mm with a stainless slide. The images of the weapon taken immediately after the fight show it to be fairly battered. The weapon purportedly malfunctioned as Farook attempted to kill approaching officers after he was gunned down. The images of the gun show it with the slide partially retracted.

Malik’s Panther Arms A-15 was an inexpensive no-frills AR-15 variant. Not unsurprisingly, the murderers had illegally modified this weapon as well.

Malik’s weapon was a low-end Panther Arms A-15. This weapon lacks a forward assist and ejection port cover. Her gun also has a railed forend, flash suppressor, vertical foregrip, and cheap optic. The back half of the optic appears to have been shot away at some point during the gun battle. Her weapon was originally equipped with a bullet button that the criminals had disabled. Both weapons were fed with plentiful standard capacity 30-round magazines.

Malik’s Llama 1911 was retrofitted with aftermarket grips.

The woman’s sidearm was a Llama XI-B 1911 in 9mm. This is a Spanish-made 1911 pistol with a Commander-style slide fitted with aftermarket wraparound grips. The weapon as photographed in the aftermath of the shooting appears to be in Condition 1.

Farook amassed his collection of guns over a period of years. No amount of regulatory minutiae could have interdicted this. That of course did not stop Leftists from the President on down from screaming for further ineffective gun control laws in the aftermath of this senseless tragedy.

These four weapons reflect a shooter who is obviously familiar with the equipment but operating on a fairly tight budget. Farook accumulated his weapons over the course of three years using a neighbor as a straw buyer for the rifles. He had illegally modified both of the long guns to circumvent arcane California gun laws.

Commentary

If your religion involves some loser like this telling you to go murder innocent people you’re likely attending the wrong church.

What possible darkness could possess two young parents to abandon their 6-month-old daughter and sacrifice their lives to slaughter a building full of innocent people? Not meaning to seem overly judgmental but if your god demands stuff like that you might quite possibly be worshipping the wrong deity.

American Muslims expressed outrage over the shooting.

Farook’s family as well as local and national Muslim organizations vehemently condemned the couple’s actions. American Muslims subsequently raised more than $150,000 in support of victims’ families.

A timely and aggressive Law Enforcement response prevented this tragedy from being any worse.

This operation was clearly months if not years in the making. The terrorists accumulated the equipment and meticulously planned the attack. Had it not been for timely interdiction by Law Enforcement this horrible tragedy would have been all the more horrible.

Here’s the simple, easy-to-use flow chart the state of California produced to help its citizens determine if their black rifle was legal or not. Oddly, these two black-hearted murderers seem to have ignored all this stuff.

After a lifetime of study, I cannot intelligently articulate the sundry details of California firearms law. Suffice it to say that the San Bernardino shootings illustrate the ludicrous nature of trying to regulate the actions of a psychopath via legislation. Bullet buttons, bayonet lugs, magazine restrictions, and scary features seem awfully silly in this context.

Denouement

I honestly don’t know what the Koran teaches. I’ve never studied it. However, inciting racial hatred is one of the primary goals of ISIS.

If you peruse the source material of some of these radical Islamist groups you will find that fomenting xenophobia against Muslims is one of their central tenets. By creating anger and violence against Muslim minorities they expect to fuel an uprising and further their own recruitment and radicalization goals. Skepticism and vigilance are necessary for our cultural survival, but racially-fueled hatred toward particular people groups feeds into our enemy’s dark mission.

With three years to plan, I could have bought one of these, taught myself how it works, and scratch-built my own weapons.

Given the lead time these two animals had, I could have procured the machine tools, taught myself to use them, and built my weapons literally from scratch. Absolutely no amount of draconian gun control legislation will ever affect lunatics like this in a nation that already has 393 million firearms in circulation. To believe otherwise is simply magical thinking.

This is the absolute only thing that could ever stop an attack of this sort in its tracks. Mind that trigger finger there, stud.

In the final analysis, the only thing that could have influenced the carnage at the Inland Regional Center that horrible day would have been an armed civilian or three. The cops arrived three and one-half minutes after they were called and responded perfectly, yet fourteen people still died. Sadly, the state of California had ensured that no one present had the means to defend themselves.

The Great State of California saw to it that these two radicalized psychopaths had an unfettered killing field. Down here in the Deep South where I live guns are pretty much everywhere and we tend to get along surprisingly well.
Responding officers in San Bernardino seemed to be armed predominantly with stainless Ruger Mini-14’s. City planners likely felt these weapons seemed less threatening than some others. The criminals did not seem thusly encumbered.

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About the author: Will Dabbs was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, having been immersed in hunting and the outdoors since his earliest recollections. He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Mississippi and is the product of a traditional American nuclear family. Where most normal American kids get drunk to celebrate their 21st birthday, Will bought his first two machineguns. Will served eight years as an Army Aviator and accumulated more than 1,100 flight hours piloting CH47D, UH1H, OH58A/C, and AH1S helicopters. He is scuba qualified, has parachuted out of perfectly good airplanes at 3 o’clock in the morning, and has summited Mt. McKinley, Alaska–the highest point in North America–six times (at the controls of a helicopter, which is the only way sensible folk climb mountains). For reasons that seemed sagacious at the time he ultimately left the Army as a Major to pursue medical school. Dr. Dabbs has for the last dozen years owned the Urgent Care Clinic of Oxford, Mississippi. He also serves as the plant physician for the sprawling Winchester ammunition plant in that same delightful little Southern town. Will is a founding partner of Advanced Tactical Ordnance LLC, a licensed 07/02 firearms manufacturer and has written for the gun press for a quarter century. He writes solely to support a shooting habit that is as insensate as it is insatiable. Will has been married to his high school sweetheart for more than thirty years and has taught his Young Married Sunday School class for more than a decade. He and his wife currently have three adult children and a most thoroughly worthless farm dog named Dog.

{ 22 comments… add one }
  • Mike Colorado August 3, 2020, 2:02 pm

    When this event happened it was the last day I carried a Colt 1911 Enhanced Government model and started carrying a Springfield XD Tactical in 45 acp along with purchasing my own Class 4 body armor because the armor our agency had was not the good stuff. The writing was on the wall that law enforcement would never be the same again after San Bernadino. Our stupid politicians do not see the threat of this ever happening again. As long as our southern border is porus and we do not know who is in out country legally this will happen again and there is nothing in the law enforcement inventory to stop RPG rockets, plastic explosives, hand grenades and automatic weaponry. I had to do a study for my work before I retired and looked at every terrorist incident and response times from law enforcement and how they were prepared to handle the situation. I never want to see what happened in Paris, France happen in our country but the writing is on the wall that yes it will happen here and make San Bernadino look like childs play. I do not know what will change Americans way of thinking about homeland security along with the democratic party. Open borders mean terrorist actions just look at the U.K. and the drug cartels have shown how easy it is to get automatic weaponry into our country. Not a lot of people remember the late 70s and early 80s when the cocaine cowboys from across the border were having a hay day in Florida. We shall reap what we have sown from being incompetent in America.

  • ed August 3, 2020, 4:52 am

    after this mass murder, the lib ca pols went ahead and passed more restrictive gun laws figuring if the ones in place didn’t work, then let’s have more.

  • James S July 28, 2020, 11:49 am

    Outstanding article, exceptionally well written!

  • Mike in a Truck July 27, 2020, 5:42 pm

    Ha! You that say the cops should handle these wack jobs- look at how in Democrat run cities they handle a bunch of communist losers running a Bolshevik Revolution. Working out well eh? The message should be loud and clear Lima- Charlie for you military types: Your On Your Own.

  • JCitizen July 27, 2020, 4:15 pm

    It is so sad that two young people with skills that could do so much to help the community and themselves and their children, could be led to such a black and dead end like that; not to mention the tragedy of so many wonderful people needlessly losing their lives.

    We need to buck up in this country and start identifying people that need mental help, and a better way to keep them from getting armed until they get that help. One thing that really gripes me about the news media is that nothing could have prevented this couple from building the bombs they had either; and if they had gone off, the situation would have been even worse, and freed them up to continue their rampage without the LEOs knowing who they were yet. Notice that in the Middle East where AKs are a dime a dozen, even there the terrorists prefer the bomb as their favorite weapon. No stupid firearms law will ever stop that.

  • David Morrison July 27, 2020, 2:30 pm

    I noticed what one of our guys was using. I would not choose a Ruger mini14 over an AR. Nor would I choose a 10 round magazine. It must be a California thing.

    • Mark N. July 30, 2020, 2:20 am

      It is actually a Ruger thing. Maybe they’ve changed, but for a long time, at the behest of the founder, they did not sell +10 mags. California does have a 10 round limit, but LEO are exempt for duty weapons.

  • Reticent Rogue July 27, 2020, 12:22 pm

    Thanks for another good one, Will. I have read the Koran several times.

    Islam in a nutshell: when Mohammed went into the cave to meditate on how to improve trade, his conclusion, after having the best scholars come and guest-lecture him on morals, ethics and religions, was that, to improve trade relations so that he could trade with anyone and everyone without religious trade restrictions and make a lot of money—his solution was to come up with a secularized hybrid of religions extant that would encourage Jews to trade with Christians and pagan Arabs (until Mohammed’s scribes completed the seminal books of the Koran there were no Muslims; they emerged after Mohammed died in 632 A.D.) He borrowed liberally from all the texts read to him by the scholars (Mohammed was illiterate and could not read); and, in terms of literary ‘voice,’ he changed the Old Testament (Talmudic) stories from past tense, historic voice to active voice—instead of ‘Abraham killed the non-believers’ Mohammed changed it to the demonstrative “kill the infidel where you find him.” He discarded most of the Christian tenets, like ‘love your neighbor as yourself,’ altogether favoring the militarism of the Talmud instead. All the ethical stanzas dealing with how to treat old ladies and children are largely found in stanzas dealing with taxation and tithing; and all forms of love and respect applied only to believers, not to infidels. Any honest Koranic scholar worth his salt will tell you that, while much of Koran is devoted to ethical conduct, the underlying premise is convert or die; all non-Muslims are second class citizens; and all final solutions are military and martial in nature. Ultimately, it is not a peaceful religion and anyone who says differently is not being truthful.

    We should fight to repeal all gun laws and encourage our politicians to concentrate on legislation that enhances punishment for criminal laws already coded that so often go unpunished or lightly punished—along with some proscriptions for ‘permanent solutions.”

    • JCitizen July 27, 2020, 4:00 pm

      I haven’t read the Quran, but I have studied history and came to the same conclusion you did, that Mohammed invented his religion as a business venture; and as soon as he got enough power, he started writing an even more violent chapter of his book, to reflect that he wanted to convert all infidels and shoot the rest to let “allah sort them out”. You are right on!

  • Bob Cook July 27, 2020, 10:06 am

    Guessing Charles Welch does not live in the south. Actually in southern states not run by Democrats, crime is quite low. I policed in Florida for 28 years and guns used in domestics were and are rare. His opinion comes from somewhere other than experience.

  • Ann E Mous July 27, 2020, 8:56 am

    Please stop the psycho nonsense. They weren’t psycho, they were muslim. The sooner we acknowledge that, the sooner they won’t be able to hide amongst us. If their neighbor had been worried less about looking like a racist and more about reporting suspicious activity, this might have been averted. Saying have a gun is obvious. Perhaps you should preach that concealed means CONCEALED and it might be better to risk getting caught rather that getting caught without

    • Mark N. July 30, 2020, 2:31 am

      Farook, as a citizen with no criminal record, was fully entitled to buy any weapon legal in the state of California. But to avoid attracting attention to himself, he bought them through a straw purchase arrangement. The “illegal” portions of their rifles really depends on the date of their crimes, as California laws on the subject are always changing. From what I can see, both rifles had had their bullet buttons removed and replaced with standard mag releases. (A bullet button forces the user to use a tool–the tip of a bullet, say, to operate the mag release.) They also had flash hiders (A-2 bird cages) that are prohibited features (although muzzle brakes were and are legal). Currently, adjustable stocks are illegal, but this was not always so. But vertical foregrips were prohibited then as well as now (but slanted ones are legal).

      No, none of these make a whole lot of sense. Well, they actually do when you understand that the purpose, so far completely unsuccessful, was to ban Evil Black Rifles from the state by making it virtually impossible to fire more than ten rounds without a very slow mag change. Things have gotten worse since then.

  • Lee Drowlette July 27, 2020, 8:46 am

    Blue states like California and New York will never admit that good guys with guns could have neutralized this attack. Sadly the fact is that residents of these states and other big cities like Chicago have gun laws that are completely ignored by these domestic Terrorists who hold the edge over the citizens living in these areas! Ones only choice is to move and abandon these God forsaken killing fields-(cities and states) where it’s residents are at the mercy of the gun grabbers in these places.

  • Rangemaster11B July 27, 2020, 6:58 am

    Those are San Bernardino County Sheriffs deputies. Their standard long gun is the Mini-14, and has been ever since the Norco bank robbery in 1980 showed them the need for duty rifles.

    • Ti July 27, 2020, 9:00 pm

      I like that stainless folder in the pic. The others are in black synthetic it appears.

  • Wild Bill July 26, 2020, 9:25 pm

    These folks were Muslims in the cult of Satan. That’s all that is relevant. Think not? Reflect on 9/11!

  • Charles Welch July 26, 2020, 8:29 pm

    I wouldn’t say that ” down South people growing up with guns pretty much get along…The crime rate and shootings of neighbor and domestic violence with guns is high in the South.You and others miss or ignore the point ….that is no one ,whether State of California or any State wants free access without safeguards …rightly so.Armed victims could have defended themselves or ended up shooting and killing more innocents in a free for all shoot out.The police are the appropriate persons to handle a situation like this
    The real issue is HOW DO YOU PREVENT PSYCHOS from.getting guns. Or vigilantes from getting guns .NO restrictions is NOT the answer. Arming everyone is NOT the answer. How do you know who is psycho or not ?
    It is.a complex question .Not simply a matter of handing everyone a gun. !

    • Jrp July 27, 2020, 8:52 am

      Your a moron. The constitution says you should have free access. They completely banned drugs but here we are. Drugs are worse now then they ever were. Evil is Evil. You can’t legislate evil. Your a leftist that believes in cradle to grave and that “Wait for the cops” why evil kills your whole family. Venezuela is waiting for your social utopia. The author was right. These cowards are tough until someone shoots back. They prey on sheep like you and before you say it. A well “regulated” militia means to be ready not government regulation. Look it up. Another change of a definition to fit their anti-gun agenda. It’s about control and the serfs can die as the royalty feels safer that we can’t pose a threat if we have guns too.

      • Don July 27, 2020, 10:33 am

        Idiotic. The same old argument that arming citizens is more dangerous is silly. Good people shoot back and kill bad people.

      • ES July 31, 2020, 11:52 pm

        That is the funniest dang first sentence but so true, born and raised in NYC and had the good sense to leave in 76′ residing in the south with a scar, 1911, M&P 45, and a host of others… beautiful.

    • Clint W. July 27, 2020, 10:12 am

      I am thankfully, a Southerner, born and raised like my forefathers. We have always had firearms, all kinds, and so have our family members, relatives and friends. Nobody in our family line has shot anyone, except historically when approved as in 1861-65, WW I & II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East, plus a cousin that was in the Grenada expedition. along with deer, hogs, bear, turkey, paper targets, bottles and plates. Nobody we know has shot anybody either outside of war. When the South is singled out for shootings, like the blue states and cities, the problem is always centered in large metro areas, not in the country side. The day of the feud is long gone, you go to jail or the chair if you shoot and kill without it being justified. The last criminal shot around here was by a local was a Deputy who took out someone attacking him with a knife, and that was 10 years ago. We have had shootings or threats by folks robbing places while they pass through. When they are apprehended, they are always from one of the blue cities going to and from places like Atlanta, Chicago, NYC, Newark. Not to say that other places in the South don’t shoot folks, but I’ll bet if you tracked them all, they rates would drop geometrically as you moved father away from a metro area, and not just because there are fewer people in a given area.

  • Tim Heslin July 26, 2020, 5:40 pm

    When seconds count, help is only, always, minutes away. You are your 1st responder. It is YOUR responsibility to Protect and Defend ones self and family…. This is one of many reasons We have Constitutional rights…
    If a States corrupt officials Violates Our rights. We have no one to blame but ourself…

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