Digging deeper into the Tashfeen Malik mystery: 'Another day, another slaughter'?

For the past few days, Tashfeen Malik has been the flavor of the hour in press reports about the San Bernardino shootings as folks have slowly realized it was her who was the radicalized element in this murderous couple. It appears that the wife converted her husband. As tmatt said very early on of this case, it was likely that, "all roads lead to Saudi Arabia."

Here’s what the Los Angeles Times had right up top on Sunday:

Tashfeen Malik, the 29-year-old female shooter in the deadly San Bernardino rampage, was a onetime "modern girl" who became religious during college and then began posting extremist messages on Facebook after arriving in the U.S., a family member in Pakistan told the Los Angeles Times.
The family member, in Malik's hometown of Karor Lal Esan who asked to not be identified, said Malik's postings on Facebook were a source of concern for her family.
"After a couple of years in college, she started becoming religious. She started taking part in religious activities and also started asking women in the family and the locality to become good Muslims. She started taking part in religious activities of women in the area,” the family member told The Times.
"She used to talk to somebody in Arabic at night on the Internet. None of our family members in Pakistan know Arabic, so we do not know what she used to discuss," the family member said. The family speaks Urdu and a dialect of Punjabi known as Saraiki. 

If you look up at the bylines, you see three reporters and a dateline of Islamabad. Somehow they found the village this woman was from, got a translator and dug up the relatives.

Read further down in the story, and you’ll see they’re quoting from a Pakistani TV channel, from BBC, various friends at their San Bernardino mosque, the family attorney, a Pakistani who lives near Karor Lal Esan who claimed he knew the family well and that they were “extremist;” plus anyone else the Times could dig up.

What resulted was a lengthy narrative with three lead reporters and 31 contributors.

Yes, 31.

There are massive teams of professionals working very, very fast. There’s one paragraph higher in the story that’s repeated much lower, so it’s obvious there are some weary editors out there trying to tie all this information together with a few details slipping through the cracks.

It’s obvious the Times feels it owns this story and if that means shipping three reporters to Islamabad, so be it.

The weirdest part of the whole story is how she posted a statement of loyalty to ISIS shortly before stepping out the door to kill 14 people. If you were going to conduct a massacre, would you turn to Facebook? Then again, who could leave behind a 6-month-old daughter?  A companion article points out how she covered her face nearly all the time and few people knew what she looked like. She seemed to be a dutiful spouse content to stay home with their child. Until she wasn’t.

Other media are hot on her trail as well. The Daily Mail (UK) is linking her to the Red Mosque, a notorious radical center. It also says in this article that Malik shot at her husband’s coworkers first while Syed Farook hesitated.

The New York Times (with one lead reporter and three contributors) concentrated on the Pakistani university Malik attended in Multan and suggested on Sunday that Malik’s radicalization came during the years she spent growing up in Saudi Arabia. It also said the Pakistani government is tiring of the press coverage and has privately threatened Pakistani reporters to back off or else.

Scanning other news stories on the “jihadi bride” as some are calling her, it’s clear that any in-depth reporting on this massacre is the province of media rich enough to afford to send reporters to Pakistan or draw from existing correspondents there.

A quick check of English-language Pakistani media shows there are no love lost between Malik’s family and their Pakistani relatives. and that her relatives are expressing shame over their connections to the shooter. There are more details, and more connections, to come as people keep digging.

As for other media, as the Washington Post noted on Dec. 4, “Another day (in America), another slaughter."

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