An FBI official said on Monday that they believe San Bernardino shooters Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik were radicalized "for quite some time." From their vast arsenal of weapons to their visits to a gun range, it's clear that a good deal of planning went into last week's attack at the Inland Regional Center, which left 14 people dead, and now it appears that the attack may have been in the works for years.
Two U.S. officials told CNN on Tuesday that investigators think Farook may have been plotting an attack with someone else back in 2012. It's unclear how fleshed out the plan was, but they were reportedly considering a specific location in California. The idea was abandoned after a round of terror-related arrests in the area. "They got spooked," said one of the officials.
NBC News reports that Farook and Malik may have begun discussing the Inland Regional Center as far back as three years ago, according to law enforcement sources, and preparations for the attack took at least a year. The FBI said earlier this week that the couple practiced shooting in the days before the massacre, and according to the AP, Farook visited Riverside Magnum Range on November 29 and 30. Two sources told NBC that Farook had been visiting the gun range for a year or more, and was sometimes joined by Malik.
Twelve pipe bombs and thousands of rounds of ammunition were found inside the couple's home in Redlands, California. "Clearly they were equipped and they could have done another attack," San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said earlier in the investigation. Officials have not be able to determine what other sites they may have been targeting.
See inside Farook and Mailk's home:
Earlier on Tuesday, several outlets reported that last month Farook took out a $24,500 loan from Utah-based WebBank, which was arranged by the online lender Prosper. According to Fox News, Farook withdrew $10,000 in cash, and made at least three transfers of $5,000 in the day before the shooting, apparently to to his mother. The couple left their 6-month-old daughter with Farook's mother on the morning of the shooting, and counterterrorism officials told NBC News that they had considered how the baby and her grandmother would be cared for after the attack. "They had purposely thought through that problem," said one official. "There were other indications of preparations."
If Farook was plotting an attack in 2012, that predates his first face-to-face meeting with his future wife in Saudi Arabia in 2013. The shooters said they "pledge allegiance" to the leader of ISIS in a Facebook message Malik posted before the attack, but sources tell CNN that investigators believe she was radicalized well before she she came to the U.S. last year, and prior to the rise of ISIS.
Malik's name was run through law enforcement and national security databases before she was allowed to enter the country on a K-1 visa. No alarms were raised during the vetting process, thought the Wall Street Journalnotes it's odd that a strict Muslim couple used the K-1 visa, since cultural norms prohibit cohabitation before marriage. Of the nearly 40,000 K-1 visas issued last year, only four were issued in Saudi Arabia and 519 in Pakistan.
A law enforcement official said the FBI is still looking into how and when Farook and Malik became racialized, and who influence whom, but "it's looking like they were on the same path at the same time."
See the San Bernardino shooting in photos: