Tashfeen Malik, the Pakistani woman who killed 14 people with her husband in San Bernardino earlier this month, openly advocated violent jihad on her social media accounts before coming to the U.S., but government officials approved her fiancee visa anyway, The New York Times reports.
Law enforcement officials discovered the posts, according to The Times. Had authorities found the messages when Malik applied last year for a K-1 fiancee visa to come to the U.S. with her husband, Syed Farook, she likely would not have been approved for entry. But, as The Times notes, immigration officials rarely check applicants’ social media posts for red flags. And female applicants are generally subject to less scrutiny than male applicants.
As one former senior Homeland Security Investigations officials told The Times, visa applicants’ identities are run against federal terror watch list databases, and if the person is not flagged during that process, they are usually not subject to further investigation.
Malik, who was born in Pakistan but grew up in Saudi Arabia, went through three separate screenings before being granted a green card. That despite the reportedly inflammatory social media posts and her reported association with radical elements as a student in Pakistan.
The first screening Malik went through was a criminal background and national security database check conducted by the Department of Homeland Security. The State Department conducted the second check, when the agency compared her fingerprints against national security databases. Lastly, she was interviewed by officials in the U.S. when she applied for her green card after marrying Farook.
The 29-year-old Malik also went through two in-person interviews, The Times reported — one with a consular officer in Pakistan and the other with an immigration officer in the U.S. during the green card application process.
Farook, who was born in Chicago and is of Pakistani descent, was also vetted by the feds. His background reportedly came back clean as well, as he was not on federal terror watch lists or a no-fly list.
That, too, has become a cause of concern. Farook was reportedly in the same social circle as one of four men arrested near San Bernardino in 2012 for plotting to recruit al-Qaeda fighters. It is still unclear how close Farook was to the would-be recruiter, who was recently sentenced to 25 years in prison for providing material support to terrorists.