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December 03, 2015
Morning Jolt
... with Jim Geraghty
So How Much of this ‘Hybrid’ Attack Was Jihadism?

Yesterday the country got the perfect Rorschach test of violence. People who want to downplay violent Islamist jiahdism and self-radicalization among American-born Muslims will see “workplace violence” or an excuse for another gun control push. Others will contend this is an Islamist sleeper cell, even if it isn’t formally set up by ISIS or al-Qaeda.

CNN summarizes what is known about Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik:

Police say Farook, 28, and Malik, 27, are either married or in a relationship. The Council on American Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group, said Farook has been married for two years -- but wouldn’t confirm whether Malik was the wife’s name.

Farook and his wife left their 6-month-old girl with Farook’s grandmother Wednesday and said they had a doctor’s appointment.

They abandoned their child? Okay, stop. This was not driven by a workplace dispute. To leave your infant child and then commit horrific violence that is likely to lead to your death from police action requires an almost otherworldly devotion to . . . some other cause, something you consider more important than life, death, and the inherent biological urge to protect your offspring. “Larry from accounting keeps taking the last doughnut at staff meetings” or “they took my red Swingline stapler” isn’t the sort of motive at work here.

What motivation have we seen that would make seemingly ordinary people go on mass-murdering attacks? What ideology or twisted religious fervor have we seen people willing to sacrifice their children for, willing to die for?

How religious was he?

Farook, an American citizen, worked for the San Bernardino County Department of Health for the past few years and had a young daughter, his shocked father told the Daily News.

“I haven’t heard anything,” the elder Syed Farook told The News before his son’s name became public. “He was very religious. He would go to work, come back, go to pray, come back. He’s Muslim.”

Brad Thor notices the Council on American Islamic Relations sure got in front of the cameras fast.

Oh, hm.

A family member identified Malik as Farook’s wife, according to the Los Angeles Times. Farook’s coworkers told reporters from the same outlet that he had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia and came back to the United States with a wife whom he had met on the Internet.

Someone will insist, “Oh, they were just crazy.” But there was nothing impulsive about this, as we see from leaving their child with the grandmother. These two put a lot of preparation into this:

Soon, however, he stormed out in anger. The nature of the dispute was not clear, but when he returned with his wife, 27, both of them were dressed in tactical gear and carrying assault rifles, officials said. That level of preparation is among the factors investigators are weighing as they examine a motive for the attack.

Chief Jarrod Burguan of the San Bernardino Police Department said at a news conference that the attack did not seem to be “a spur-of-the-moment thing.”

Plus . . . small, portable GoPro cameras:

A law enforcement source told Fox News that the couple were each carrying an AR-15 rifle and a pistol when they were shot and killed by police after a brief chase in their black SUV about 2 miles from the initial shooting site. The source said the vehicle also contained so-called “rollout bags” with multiple pipe bombs, as well as additional ammunition. The couple also had GoPro cameras strapped to their body armor and wore tactical clothing, including vests stuffed with ammunition magazines.

“That’s a military tactic for a sustained fight,” the source told Fox News of the rollout bags.

That’s the sort of thing you bring if you want to make videos to terrorize other people, and rally others to their cause or ideology . . . it also would explain why they left the scene instead of staying to shoot it out with police at the social services facility. They intended to live to tell the tale, at least for a while.

Each detail of this story adds one more layer of “what the hell?”

The couple didn’t leave behind a note at Inland Regional. But they did stash three explosive devices -- rigged to a remote-controlled toy car -- that didn’t go off.

See, when your perpetrators are using explosive devices, it’s stupid to argue that gun-control laws are the right solution here.

Inevitably, someone will call for “better background checks!” Except all of their guns were purchased legally -- no criminal record, no record of mental-health issues -- or taken from someone else who also passed a background check:

Two .223 caliber rifles were in the car with them, along with two pistols.

They were legally purchased, police said.

Two handguns traced back to Farook, an official said. He bought them three to four years ago.

Someone else bought the two rifles, possibly a former roommate -- also legally three or four years ago.

Once again, short of nationwide mandatory confiscation of all firearms from civilians, no gun law would have prevented this. Not a seven-day waiting period. No “gun show loophole” applied. Limits on how much ammunition a gun can carry at one time might have had a marginal impact; there’s little sign the shooters encountered much resistance at the social services facility. Initial reports indicated they had as much time to reload as they needed and brought multiple weapons.

President Obama, yesterday:

And for those who are concerned about terrorism, some may be aware of the fact that we have a no-fly list where people can’t get on planes, but those same people who we don’t allow to fly could go into a store right now in the United States and buy a firearm and there’s nothing that we can do to stop them. That’s a law that needs to be changed.

No, it doesn’t. For starters, unless you consider Ted Kennedy and The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes to be dangerous terrorists -- skip the Chappaquiddick jokes, please -- the no-fly list unjustly includes a lot of Americans with no connection to terrorism or threat to fellow passengers.

And once you’re on the watch list, there is no judicial review or other clear way to get off of the watch list.

The Hot New Trend of ‘Prayer-Shaming’

Atheists of a generation ago looked at religious believers with condescension; today they look at believers with contempt.

You can sense The Atlantic isn’t entirely comfortable with this new open sneering at people who pray after a horrific event occurs:

Even in the absence of information about the shooter’s identity and motivations, people have jumped to conclusions like this, from Democratic Senator Chris Murphy:

There are many assumptions packed into these attacks on prayer: that all religious people, and specifically Christians, are gun supporters, and vice versa. That people who care about gun control can’t be religious, and if they are, they should keep quiet in the aftermath of yet another heart-wrenching act of violence. At one time in American history, liberals and conservatives shared a language of God, but that’s clearly no longer the case; any invocation of faith is taken as implicit advocacy of right-wing political beliefs.

The most powerful evidence against this backlash toward prayer comes not from the Twitterverse, but from San Bernardino. “Pray for us,” a woman texted her father from inside the Inland Regional Center, while she and her colleagues hid from the gunfire. Outside the building, evacuated workers bowed their heads and held hands. They prayed.

ADDENDA: You’ll understand if this morning’s Jolt is short on the usual frivolity. Stay tuned to the Corner and NRO for more analysis as the day goes on.

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By John Moe
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