Megan Christie, Rhonda Schwartz, Josh Margolin, and Brian Ross, ABC News, December 1, 2016
Authorities believe the terrorist attack on Dec. 2, 2015, in San Bernardino may have been triggered by a mandatory employee training session and lunch replete with holiday decorations, including a Christmas tree, that shooter Syed Farook was forced to attend.
Emails discovered by the FBI and police reveal Farook’s wife, Pakistani native Tashfeen Malik, objected to the Christmas setting and was upset her husband had to go.
Just before the attack, Farook posed with four fellow county employees in front of a Christmas tree in a conference room.
A short time later, 14 people were killed and 22 others injured when Farook and Malik opened fire at the meeting with assault rifles.
“She had essentially made the statement in an online account that she didn’t think that a Muslim should have to participate in a non-Muslim holiday or event,” said San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan in an exclusive interview with ABC News that aired on ABC News’ “Nightline.”
“That really is one of the very, very few pieces of potential evidence that we have that we can truly point to and say, ‘That probably is a motive in this case,’” he said.
Shortly after the attack, the couple posted an online message pledging their allegiance to the ISIS terrorist group and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
But police say the couple had to search online earlier in the day for the name of al-Baghdadi.
“You would think that somebody that truly wanted to do that, somebody that was truly committed, certainly wouldn’t be researching on that particular day,” said Burguan.
The murderous couple left behind a 6-month-old daughter, who remains in state foster care, according to family members.