Update: December 5, 1:51 pm

Huffington Post has now published the most complete information I have seen so far about the background of Tashfeen Malik, the female terrorist (and I see nothing inappropriate about using that word for someone who killed 14 innocent people in cold blood and, allegedly, also posted allegiance to ISIS on Facebook, even if the US government is still hesitating to use that word).

The question, for purpose of my comments, is whether there was anything in her known background that could have triggered a warning sign on the part of a US visa officer doing a security check in connection with her application for a K-1 fiancee visa.

According the Huffpost (in a December 5 article coincidentally written by a lead reporter with a somewhat similar name, Mehreen Zahra-Malik), Tashfeen Malik was born in the Punjab area of Pakistan but brought to Saudi Arabia as a toddler by her father Gulzar, who was described by a family member as becoming "more deeply religious, more conservative and more hardline" after his move to Saudi Arabia, which, even though it receives huge amounts of arms from the United States and is considered one of America's more reliable "allies" in the Middle East, is not exactly known as a bastion of human rights, religious tolerance or equality for women.

Tashfeen Malik later returned to the same area of Pakistan as an adult to study pharmacy. According to a former Pakistani ambassador to the US, that area, including the city of Multan, where her university was located, and where her father had also built a house where he stays on visits to Pakistan, is known as a center for radical Islamist groups.

Gulzar, evidently, had also had a dispute over a house, among other matters, with his family and was totally estranged from them. After coming to the US with the fiancee visa, getting married to Farook and having a young infant child, Tashfeen Malik evidently did not have much of an online presence, other than her Facebook profile established under an alias which was deleted for praising or promoting "acts of terror". Her name was also attached to an online gift registry for her baby.

There does not seem to be very much in this history which would have been the basis for denial of a visa, even though perhaps, with hindsight, the Facebook post could have drawn more attention.

There is clearly nothing in this history that would justify suspending or questioning the entire fiancee visa program, which is used only by people who are engaged to marry American citizens, or a variety of other visa programs which anti-immigrant ideologues such as Sen Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) and other Republicans have long been attacking for any reasons they can possibly think of.

Nor is there anything in this history that would give the State of Texas, which also happens to be the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit by 26 states seeking mass deportation of millions of Mexican and other Latino immigrants, any legal basis for its utterly groundless lawsuit seeking to bar the Federal government from resettling any Syrian refugees in that state.

Details of that lawsuit will be discussed in Part 2 of these comments.

The full Huffpost story can be found at:


My previous comments and update appear below.

Update: December 4, 3:08 pm

A late report from the LA Times says that Syed Farook, one of the San Bernardino mass killers, had contact with two terror organizations overseas, one in Syria (Nusra Front) and one in Somalia (Shabab). The massacre is now being investigated as a terror attack.

This will no doubt increase right wing political pressure to delay or deny visas in many categories to thousands, if not millions, of innocent applicants who have no connection with terrorism, and to stigmatize and scapegoat innocent Muslims and other minority immigrants and American citizens in the United States. See:


Update: December 4, 11:48 am

Huffpost, in a breaking story, reports that Tashfeen Malik, the female San Bernardino mass killer, allegedly pledged allegiance to ISIS on Facebook using an alias and then deleted the messages before the attack. While, this report, if true, would indicate that she and her husband became radicalized somewhere along the line, a possibility that no one has ever ruled out and which has been under investigation, according to news reports, there is still no indication that ISIS was actually involved in the attack.

However the fact that Farook and Malik, by all indications that are known so far, appear to have been lone wolves, however radicalized, will certainly not deter the Islamophobes, nativists and other immigrant haters from trying to make hundreds of thousands of refugees and other would-be immigrants, who have every reason in the world to loathe and detest ISIS and radical Islam, scapegoats for the horrible crime that took place in San Bernardino - one that could very possibly have been prevented by effective gun control laws. See:


My original post follows:

No one should underestimate the seriousness of the December 2 San Bernardino attack which killed 14 people during a holiday party at a center for disabled people and caused terrible panic and carnage. Nor is it possible at this stage to rule out the possibility of a connection with Islamist terrorists or terrorist groups.

It appears that the couple involved in the killing, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, evidently managed to stay below the radar of federal law enforcement officials responsible for tracking terrorists in the US and overseas. But as the Los Angeles Times reports in its outstanding coverage of the attackers' background, far more thorough and detailed than that of any other media I have seen so far:

"But the cache of pipe bombs and ammunition that the authorities found after the couple were killed by police suggested a single-minded and long-standing focus on violence."

It is reasonable to assume that an impromptu reaction to an argument that might have broken out at the holiday party this was not. The LA Times was also one of the first, if not the first, media to report fully on the background of the couple.

Farook was a US citizen, born in Chicago to a Pakistani immigrant father, and Farook was apparently a devout Muslim with no history of violence whatsoever. But he grew up in a home with an abusive father.

He met Malik, who was born in Pakistan but lived most of her life in Saudi Arabia, online and traveled to Saudi Arabia for nine days in the summer of 2014, bringing her back to the US with a legal fiancee visa, one which requires full security background checks.

There was, apparently, no history of terrorist connections or radicalization either during Farook's brief stay in Saudi Arabia or after his return. The LA Times also reports that Farook's older brother, Syed Raheel, served in the navy and was awarded two medals for service in the "Global War on Terrorism".

The couple also had a six-month old baby and they seemed like normal parents of new-born child, even to the point of considerately leaving their baby with its grandmother before setting off on their horrific killing spree.

For the full report, see:


Based on the above history, it is difficult to see how even the most intensive security background checks and vetting could have turned up any indication that this couple could turn into mass killers or terrorists along the lines of "Bonnie and Clyde" (my comparison - I have not seen it yet anywhere in the media).

But even though checking them for possible terrorist or jihadist connections apparently came up blank, there is one small detail that would have shown that this was not an ordinary suburban couple and that something very big and dangerous, possibly even much worse that the mass killing which actually took place, might have been afoot.

This minor little detail was that the couple had manged to amass an arsenal of weapons which the LA Times, in the above report, describes as follows:

"San Bernardino police chief Jarrod Burguan says officers found 1,400 assault rifle rounds and another 200 handgun rounds in the couple's rental car. Inside the pair's apartment, authorities recovered an additional 2,000 handgun rounds, 2,500 assault rifle rounds, a dozen pipe bombs and hundreds of tools for bomb making."

If America had realistic and decent gun control laws, like most of the rest of the world, surely this couple would not have been able to amass such a potentially destructive arsenal undetected. Bells would have undoubtedly begun to ring somewhere.

But for our politicians, especially within the Republican party, even mentioning the words "gun control" is absolutely off limits, totally unthinkable, no matter how many thousands of Americans die in gun violence each year, far more even than the number who died in the 9/11 attacks almost 15 years ago. What is their formula for protecting the American people from further violence and mass, killings, therefore?

It is to continue scapegoating immigrants by restricting or eliminating visas that have been used by millions of innocent, law abiding people up to now, especially fiance and refugee visas.

The LA Times reports (early on December 4) that Dan Stein, president of the Federation for Immigration Reform (FAIR), which has a long and vocal record of opposing virtually all immigration, is now attempting to use the San Bernardino attack as pretext to suggest that all visas, including fiance visas, should be looked at as potentially dangerous to US security because "proper screening and vetting...is not always possible." See:


The above story also quotes Reshma Samasunder, executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center, as responding with a call for reason and tolerance. In her words:

"We call upon all Californians to stand against scapegoating and ensure that the horrible actions of a few are not used to scapegoat entire communities who are a fundamental part of our state and nation."

On the same day, Sens. Ted Cruz (R - Texas) and Jeff Sessions (R - Alabama), who have also been consistently against just about every from of immigration, legal and illegal, went even further in using San Bernardino as an excuse to scapegoat millions of immigrants who are unlikely ever to have even the remotest connection with Islamist radicalism.

The following is an extract from their December 3 letter to the Secretaries of the US Department of Homeland Security and Department of State, as well as the Attorney General:

"In our struggle against terrorism, we are dealing with an enemy that has shown it is not only capable of bypassing US screening, but of recruiting and radicalizing Muslim migrants after their entry into the United States. The recruitment of terrorists in the US is not limited to adult migrants, but to their young children and their US-born children - which is why family immigration history is necessary to understand the nature of the threat."

Let us look at for a moment at the amazing implications of the above statement. The Senators are not talking here about individual responsibility, which has always been at the heart of American law, but of family responsibility, at least where possible terrorism is concerned.

Based on the logic of this letter, Syed Farook's Pakistani-born father, who has never been connected with any terrorism or violence whatsoever, and whose older son has received two medals for his service in the US navy in support of the War on Terrorism, should never have been allowed into the United States because his (as yet unborn) younger son would one day become a mass killer.

Based on this logic, one can also expect that Farook and Malik's six month-old American-born baby (or possibly her future children or grandchildren) will be under close observation for possible jihadist sympathies when she grows up.

To be continued.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, he has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants obtain work visas and green cards. He believes that immigration law not only depends on technical rules, but also involves issues of basic human rights, fundamental fairness and equal justice under the law.

Rogers's email address is algaselex@gmail.com