The FBI Just Said The San Bernardino Shooters Didn't Post Public Support of Jihad on Social Media

December 16th 2015

Alex Mierjeski

In an apparent reversal of one of the central narratives to the recent mass shooting in San Bernardino, FBI officials now say that the shooters did not post publicly on social media about supporting violent jihad.

Instead, the two had shown "signs in their communication of their joint commitment to jihad and to martyrdom" in private messages, the agency's director, James B. Comey, said on Wednesday.

Related: Why These Women Scare ISIS

"Those communications are direct, private messages," Comey said in a press conference in New York. "So far in this investigation we have found no evidence of posting on social media by either of them at that period in time and thereafter reflecting their commitment to jihad or to martyrdom. I've seen some reporting on that and that's a garble."

The news threw into question previous reports that Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the couple who massacred 14 people on December 2, had posted their online support of jihad and martyrdom. In contrast, officials now say that these private messages could not have been caught by intelligence, the Atlantic reports.


Earlier this month, U.S. law enforcement officials and a Facebook executive said that Malik, under an alias, posted support for the leader of the self-proclaimed Islamic State on the social media around the same time reports of the attack trickled in.

Related: Florida Officials Fear Potential Hate Crimes Against Muslim Women

The clarification also follows more recent news that Malik had made radical social media postings years before the attack, speaking openly about her support of violent jihad—including on facebook—according to a New York Times report over the weekend. The reports threw a spotlight on inconsistencies in the immigration screening process when it comes to checking social media accounts for applicants.

ATTN: reached out to the FBI for comment, but did not hear back by the time of publication.