Attorneys for the family of the terrorists who killed 14 people in San Bernardino on Wednesday, claimed that one of the assailants, Tashfeen Malik, was “a typical housewife” who was “assimilating fine” in the year that she had been in the U.S.
But that characterization is at odds with both the heinous act that Malik and her husband, Syed Farook, carried out at San Bernardino’s Inland Regional Center and with her embrace of traditional Islamic values.
Malik voluntarily chose not to drive, and she wore a burqa, the lawyers said.
Noting that the Farook family was “very traditional,” family attorney Mohammad Abuershaid told reporters that when the family got together, “women would sit with the women, the men with the men.”
“That is a very traditional way of acting,” Abuershaid claimed. “So the men did not interact with her,” he added, referring to Malik, who was born in Pakistan but grew up in Saudi Arabia.
“And the brothers have never seen her face, because she did wear a burqa,” Abuershaid continued. “So they just knew her as Syed’s wife.”
The FBI said Friday that it is investigating Wednesday’s attack as an act of terrorism. Investigators believe that Farook had contact with known terrorists in Somalia and Syria. It was also reported that Malik posted her allegiance to ISIS on Facebook during the attack. (RELATED: FBI: ‘We Are Now Investigating These Horrific Acts As An Act Of Terrorism’ [VIDEO])
But the Farook family’s attorneys sought to downplay the terrorism angle, chiding reporters from rushing to judgement. They still maintained the the shooting, which involved four guns, 76 rounds of ammunition, and failed bombing attempts, could still be workplace violence. They floated the possibility that Farook could have been angry at co-workers who made fun of a beard that he was growing.
They also portrayed Malik as a “caring” and “typical” housewife.
“The family just knew her as she was caring, she was soft spoken,” Abuershaid said.
“She was like a typical house wife,” David Chesley, another lawyer, said.
“For the year she was here, she was assimilating fine,” Abuershaid added, noting that Malik spoke broken English and Urdu. Malik and Farook met on an online dating website, the lawyers noted.
“She did maintain certain traditions from what I understand, in terms of fasting and prayer five times a day,” Chesley told reporters, adding that “she chose not to drive voluntarily.”
“But these are all benign, you know, these are things that many Muslims do and it doesn’t mean anything, necessarily,” he added.
“She was a very private person. She kept herself very isolated, she was very conservative,” he said.
“There is very little information we have about her, other than the fact that she is a caring housewife.”