If Wednesday’s massacre in San Bernardino, Calif., turns out to be Islamic terrorism, one clear takeaway is that the problem is not a boys’ club.
When Syed Farook and wife Tashfeen Malik were gunned down by police during a firefight while fleeing the scene of the incident at the Inland Regional Center, Malik’s gender and the couple’s marital status became immediate cause for comment. But while atypical, this type of deadly duo is not unprecedented.
In April, German authorities raided the home of an Islamist couple who were stockpiling arms and bombs perhaps intending to attack a bicycle race that was scheduled to run through their town. This week, trial continues in Britain for Mohammed Rehman and his wife, Sana Ahmed Khan, in a plot to bomb a London shopping center in commemoration of the terrorist attacks on July 7, 2005.
Another good example of the jihadist couple is the case of Hayat Boumeddiene and her husband, Amedy Coulibaly, who were two of the planners of the Charlie Hebdoattacks last January and the shooting at a Paris kosher supermarket, where Coulibaly was killed. Boumeddiene, who had received training from al-Qaeda, escaped to Syriaafter the attacks, where she was interviewed in the Islamic State magazine Dabiq. Boumeddiene was reportedly the more radical of the pair; in a call intercepted byFrench intelligence, she complained that Coulibaly was “not a serious man … he only thinks about having fun.” Over time, she convinced her husband there was more to life than live-and-let-live.
This points to one possible line of inquiry in the San Bernardino attack, namely that Malik was the motivating force in the attack, not Farook. It is wrong to assume that given Islam’s tradition of female subservience, this was simply “bring your wife to jihad” day. It could have been something more systematic.
Foreign terrorists have long exploited the American marriage visa loophole to obtain legal entry into the USA and the ability to remain here. Before the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Orange County resident, and U.S. citizen, Saraah Olson marriedEgyptian-born Hisham Diab without knowing he was connected to the top levels of al-Qaeda, or that he began running a sleeper cell with their neighbor Khalil Deek.
James S. Robbins writes weekly for USA TODAY and is the author of The Real Custer: From Boy General to Tragic Hero.