More than a week after Syed Farook and his jihadist wife slaughtered 14 people and injured 21 at a Christmas party in San Bernardino, lingering questions about how the attack played out and the way it is being handled by the FBI continue to simmer just below the surface.
As WND reported, several witnesses said they saw a third shooter dressed in black carrying an assault rifle.
But there are other oddities peculiar to this case.
WND contacted the FBI's Los Angeles office, which is handling the case, with a list of questions about the possible third shooter, lack of video in an office park dominated by government buildings, and why Farook's apartment was opened to the media so soon. WND also asked about Farook's mother, and the strange behavior of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in working to represent the terrorists' family.
The FBI's media coordinator, Laura Eimiller, responded to an email Thursday morning saying she believed she "could answer most" of the questions. She never got back with WND as promised on any of the questions.
Why, for instance, did the FBI open Farook's apartment to the media less than 48 hours after the crime was committed, with what appeared to be much of the evidence left scattered about?
"I'm hesitant to call them oddities, only because we just don't know anything yet," former 12-year Secret Service agent Dan Bongino told WND.
He said he could chalk up the "third shooter" reports to the "fog of war" phenomenon, where witness descriptions are notoriously unreliable.
Where's the video?
Another issue that hasn't been addressed yet by the FBI is why there has been no video footage.
"We don't know that for sure. Is there a video and it hasn't been released? I'm hesitant to call it odd until we know," Bongino said. "I think (FBI Director James) Comey is doing a pretty good job to avoid the politics so far. I trust Comey. I hate to assume anything without having the facts. I'm a born skeptic, but I can only be skeptical if I have the facts to believe otherwise."
Carl Gallups, a Florida law enforcement officer for 10 years before he became a pastor, author and radio host, is more skeptical.
"Most government facilities, and especially facilities of this nature, do have surveillance technology," said Gallups, author of "Be Thou Prepared: Equipping the Church for Persecution and Times of Trouble."
"Many are joining the ranks of those who are scratching their heads over this one," Gallups added. "How is it that the worst act of homeland Islamic violence since 9/11 just happened to occur on a government facility location that apparently had no video surveillance?"
Why was Farook's apartment opened to media?
Bongino said it was very unusual that the crime scene would be released so soon to the media.
Harry Houck, a law-enforcement analyst for CNN, told Anderson Cooper he didn't notice any fingerprint dust on the walls as reporters were traipsing through the apartment.
"That would have been visible if it had been tested for fingerprints for people who might have been connected with the two shooters in some way," he said.
"You have documents laying all over the place, you got shredded documents that need to be taken out of there and put together to see what has been shredded," Houck said. "You have passports, you've got driver's licenses, now you have thousands of fingerprints all over this crime scene. There should have been some crime scene tape up there."
He said even after a crime scene has been processed, it's usually kept locked up for days or weeks with a sign warning the public to stay out.
"They did not do that here," Houck said. "I tell you, I am so shocked I cannot believe it. This is Detective 101, for crying out loud. Now we have, it looks like, dozens of people in there, totally destroying the crime scene, which is still vital in this situation. There might be tons of fingerprints in there. … There may be other people who were in there who could have been on a terrorist watch list. I'm really shocked here. I'm shaking right now because I can't believe this happened."
Bongino agreed it was an "unusual" way to handle a crime scene.
"I can't imagine the FBI doesn’t regret that now, given the media attention. Yes, typically these crime scenes are sealed until after all the evidence is evaluated," he told WND. "It's certainly strange. That's not the way we would have done certain things when I was with the Secret Service if it was an ongoing, unprocessed crime scene. It may not have been. They may have already gotten everything. It wasn't a very big place, and it was a high-profile case."
Gallups said different crime scenes require different protocol, but the quick release of Farook's apartment seemed questionable.
"Of course, the explanation could be as simple as they thought they had everything they needed for their case," he said. "However, in a situation as sensitive as this, and under as much public and media scrutiny (not to mention the sheer magnitude of the event), it would seem that at least several more days (perhaps weeks) of evidence collection and re-examination as well as a few more re-sweeps and forensic analysis might have been called for – just in case. I would think that this case is simply too big for sloppy crime-scene procedures. "
Was Farook's mother involved?
Questions have also swirled about Farook's mother, Rafia Farook. She lived with him in a small apartment where he had at least a dozen pipe bombs, 4,500 rounds of ammunition, assault weapons, clips and other weapons. There were witnesses working in the area who told media they saw Middle Eastern men coming and going for weeks before the attack. She was also the member of an extremist Islamic organization, the Islamic Circle of North America, or ICNA, a group that is known to advocate the establishment of a caliphate.
It would seem hard to believe she didn't know anything was going on, especially when the authorities have now acknowledged that Farook and Tashfeen Malik had been planning the attack for months.
As the investigation unfolded, Rafia Farook was placed on the government's terror watch list.
Gallups called the treatment of Farook's mother "another head-scratcher."
The mother's background and the fact that a third shooter was mentioned throughout the first day of the attack makes some observers wonder if Farook and Malik were just two people within a larger cell that was responsible for the attack. The circumstantial evidence points in that direction, with the FBI admitting that the couple had planned at least a year for the attack and had practiced incessantly at gun ranges.
President Obama made a point of saying the San Bernardino attackers were not part of a larger cell in his speech to the American people several days after the attack, which is just more reason for some to believe otherwise.
Gallups said anyone with direct parental ties to a mass shooter, who shared a house where a dozen or more pipe bombs were stored along with a cache of ammunition and weapons, would have to be considered a suspect.
The FBI is also evaluating surveillance video from the gun range where Farook and Malik practiced target shooting.
Also troubling is that Farook did not stand out among his peers at work or in any of his social engagements in the community. He was considered "normal" by everyone.
"He presented what appeared to be a valid ID. He came in and acted the way he normally does, the way normal people act," John Galletta, the gun-range manager at Magnum Gun Range where Farook was a customer, told CNN.
Bongino said he believes the FBI is covering its bases with the mother.
"I think she's getting a closer look," Bongino said. "I don't think any reasonable person would assert otherwise. The FBI right now is doing a detailed reverse engineering of her phone data, her social media, her friends and contacts. I would be floored if that were not going on at this minute."
The theories about a third shooter are hardest to swallow for some observers, simply because of the sheer number of people who claimed to see three suspects on the day the attack was carried out. Could they all have been wrong?
All the cable TV networks were reporting that eyewitnesses on the scene were confirming in live reports there were three shooters dressed in all black, wearing black hood/masks and body armor.
At one point it was reported live on TV that police were conducting a "house to house" search for the third shooter.
Recently, there have been at least two witnesses to the shooting that day who are back in the news insisting there were three shooters. Some of these witnesses are also insisting that the two supposed terrorists who were killed are not even the ones who did the actual shooting. Several published reports indicate it may not have been Farook or Malik who even carried out the attack, with at least one report citing supposed eyewitnesses who proclaim that "Three athletic Caucasian men carried out the attacks."
"There are still a ton of unanswered questions in this case," Gallups said. "One would like to think that perhaps the authorities know of the third shooter and might even know who he/she is and are trying to hunt down that person now. Perhaps the reason authorities have been rather silent about the third shooter was an attempt to keep that shooter relatively contained so that they could eventually make an arrest. Of course, there are those who are suspecting a darker angle to the story. I would not want to venture a guess at this point; it certainly will be interesting to watch this story continue to unfold."
What's going on with CAIR?
Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of the case is the behavior of the Council for American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR. It conducted a live, prime-time press conference in which it trotted out Farook's brother in-law to say how sorry he felt for the victims. CAIR officials initially said it was a case of workplace violence that had nothing to do with Islam. All of this was said before the FBI even ruled the crime to be an act of terrorism.
Since the attack, CAIR has continued its odd behavior, representing Farook's family and also running interference between the FBI and several Muslim witnesses.
"CAIR, a turnstile for terrorist suspects and convicts of its own, including a former communications officer from its Washington headquarters now serving time in federal prison, is helping the Muslim family lawyer up and doing damage control on their behalf in the media," observed Investors.com.
CAIR is listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terror-financing trial in Texas in 2007-08.
"Nothing CAIR does surprises me anymore. They're unindicted co-conspirators. We know that. They have active involvement in groups of questionable intent. I don't trust anything they say," Bongino said. "CAIR's opinion should always be viewed through that lens. And they have interests that are not in the interest of John Q. Public."
Pressure from Obama administration?
So why is the FBI allowing CAIR to insert itself into the case?
"I think it's pressure from the Obama administration," Bongino said. "That puts a face on this that is not the face of these two killers."
CAIR was founded and is still backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, a known extremist organization that supports Shariah law and has been banned or declared a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and other countries.
Bongino said the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrated the U.S. government after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, during the George W. Bush administration.
"Let's be honest here; this is not new with the Obama administration. The Muslim Brotherhood infiltration goes back to the Bush administration," he said. "It would be totally disingenuous for us to say this all occurred under Obama. I've heard it said, from good sources, that they had access to the Bush administration but they run meetings in the Obama administration."
FBI bowing to political correctness
Gallups said CAIR's actions are bordering on criminal interference.
"CAIR’s presence, direct involvement, and even interference, in this case is alarming," he said. "Political correctness is absolutely going to be the demise of the United States if we don’t quickly get a grip on it. If I were running this investigation and could prove criminal interference on the part of anyone, much less CAIR, I would immediately make arrests and move toward prosecution. I don’t know that they have crossed the criminal line yet. If they have not, it will be difficult for the authorities to address the matter. Perhaps yet another revisiting of CAIR’S activities – financial backing, terrorist organization ties, etc. – might be in order."
House Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul confirmed to ABC News that Farook was apparently contemplating jihadi terrorism in California as early as 2012, but said, "They got cold feet."
Joel B. Pollack, writing for Breitbart on CAIR's odd role, said the organization, because of its reputation, would be expected to distance itself from a terrorist attack. But it did the opposite.
Hussam Ayloush, director of CAIR’s Los Angeles chapter, told CNN the United States was to blame for provoking the attack through foreign policies Muslims found objectionable: “Let’s not forget that some of our own foreign policy, as Americans, as the West, have fueled that extremism,” he told CNN, listing several policy grievances.
Not content with acting as a mouthpiece for the terrorists’ perceived demands, Pollack reported that CAIR offered legal assistance to the family of the terrorists, appearing in court earlier this week to help Farook’s sister, Saira Khan, who is “eagerly awaiting to obtain custody” of the six-month-old baby that he and his wife abandoned before their attack.
"CAIR issued a press release drawing attention to its role, almost as if legal assistance were a kind of death benefit offered to would-be terrorists, ensuring their children’s welfare.
"CAIR’s actions do not meet the legal definition of 'accessory after the fact.' But helping terrorists’ families, and broadcasting their political message – common practices of regimes that support terror, like the Palestinian Authority – is an odd way to carry out CAIR’s mission of improving 'American-Islamic relations.' If anything, CAIR’s actions are calculated to inflame those relations."