A visa application submitted by Syed Rizwan Farook for his wife, Tashfeen Malik, gives new details about how the two shooters involved in the San Bernardino, California, attack met each other. The release of the documents Tuesday by the House Judiciary Committee comes as the visa vetting process that allowed Malik's entry to the U.S. remains under scrutiny.
The 21-page file reportedly stated that Malik and Farook began their relationship on a “matrimonial website” and then met in person during the 2013 hajj pilgrimage. The two were engaged in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, after several weeks of exchanging emails. Farook, an American citizen, petitioned to bring Malik, a native of Pakistan, to the U.S. with the intent of marrying her “within the first month of her arriving in the U.S,” the Wall Street Journal reported, citing the visa application.
The officer surveying Malik’s visa application reportedly demanded proof that the couple had actually met — but no further documents were provided before authorities approved the 29-year-old’s application, said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., who alleged over the weekend that immigration officials “did not thoroughly vet” Malik’s application.
A review of Malik's U.S. visa application by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), made at the request of the House Judiciary Committee, raised questions over the visa process. The entry stamp on Malik’s passport showed she entered Saudi Arabia on June 4, 2013, according to which her 60-day visa required her to leave Saudi Arabia nearly two months before Farook's arrival on Oct. 1, 2013, per his passport, Reuters reported, citing a CRS translation. However, a source familiar with the documents reportedly said that there could be confusion about dates as Saudi Arabia and some other Muslim countries use the Islamic calendar, while the Gregorian calendar is used elsewhere in the world.
“In order to obtain a fiancée visa, it is required to demonstrate proof that the U.S. citizen and foreign national have met in person,” Goodlatte said in a statement, according to Fox News. “However, Malik’s immigration file does not show sufficient evidence for this requirement.”
He said “what is worse” is that the U.S. officials reviewing the application apparently requested more evidence to demonstrate the two had actually met “but it was never provided and her visa was approved anyway.”
In other parts of Malik's immigration file, described to Reuters by congressional sources, Malik denied having any militant sympathies or intentions, or having any suspicious background, including answering "no" on the form when asked if she had ever used or sold weapons or engaged in "terrorist activity."
Malik and Farook opened fire at a social service center in San Bernardino on Dec. 2, killing 14 people. FBI is working to determine the motive behind the shooting carried out by the couple, who has pledged allegiance to a leader of the Islamic State group on social media.