Previous posts: Wednesday; Thursday; this morning.
The San Bernardino shooting is now officially being investigated as a terrorist act:
The FBI said Friday that it is officially investigating the mass shooting in California as an act of terrorism, while a U.S. law enforcement official revealed that the woman who helped her husband carry out the attack had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and its leader on Facebook under an alias.When asked during a press conference for further details about the change in the investigation, Assistant Director of the FBI's Los Angeles office David Bowdich said there are "a number of pieces of evidence that has pushed us off the cliff."
...A Facebook official says Tashfeen Malik praised the leader of the Islamic State group in a post at 11 a.m. Wednesday, when the couple were believed to have stormed a San Bernardino social service center and opened fire.
The Facebook official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not allowed under corporate policy to be quoted by name, said the company discovered the account Thursday. It removed the profile from public view and reported its contents to law enforcement.
...Another U.S. official said Malik expressed "admiration" for the extremist group's leader on Facebook under the alias account. But the official said there was no sign that anyone affiliated with the Islamic State communicated back with her, and there was no evidence of any operational instructions being conveyed to her.
But what those "pieces of evidence" are have not been disclosed, except for the trickling leaks about an affinity for IS and vague online communications with "persons of interest."
If you're detecting my dubiousness here, it's not because I don't think this shooting constitutes terrorism. To the contrary, I have filed my coverage of this shooting under the "terrorism" label since my first post. What's bugging me is way we culturally and legally define "terrorism," and how this shooting, which terrorized lots of people, was not considered terrorism until investigators turned up evidence, no matter how thin, of affiliation with Islamic extremism.
Not even merely religious extremism, but specifically Islamic extremism. As Aphra_Behn noted in comments earlier today, which I am reposting here with her permission:
So the CNN link has officials saying that they think Farook might have been "self-radicalized."I didn't need to know a thing about Syed Rizwan Farook's and Tashfeen Malik's religious beliefs or political ideologies to know that this was an act of terrorism, because I fail to understand how we can legally define one or more people picking up weapons and opening fire on civilians as anything but an act of terror, irrespective of their reasons.
Meaning, I guess, he wasn't in contact with an organized terrorist group but became convinced he needed to strike out with violence to support his religio-political ideology? Maybe by consuming extremist media of various sorts advocating violent acts or resistance?
How the HELL does that make him different from Robert Lewis Dear? About whom I have yet to hear "self-radicalized" used as a descriptor. I sure have heard a lot of Republicans denying that violent anti-choice rhetoric could have played any role in his self-radicalizat— I mean, his inexplicable lone wolf actions.
(Unless it happens in a war zone, in which case it is a war crime and an act of terror.)
And I have a real goddamn problem with the fact that it only became "officially" an act of terrorism once they were connected to a particular religion and particular ideology, but had it been another religion and another ideology, it just would have been the inexplicable actions of madpeople.
This selective elevation to a terrorist act of only certain religions and ideologies is harmful. And the people it harms the most are those who broadly share identifying traits with the elevated terrorists.
Our government is being deeply hypocritical when it urges bigots not to blame all Muslims for acts of terror committed by Muslims, but refuses to identify as acts of terror the same sort of crimes committed, for the same ugly reasons, by Christians. If the government doesn't want all Muslims smeared as terrorists, then it needs to stop limiting to Muslims its elevation to terrorism of religiously-motivated mass murder.