SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – The visa application of one of the San Bernardino shooters was released Tuesday, revealing new details about her relationship with her husband, the other shooter.
Tashfeen Malik and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, killed 14 people when they opened fire on his co-workers December 2. The couple died in a shootout with police a few hours later.
U.S.-born Farook and Pakistan native Malik met through an online website, according to a statement from Farook included in the application. They decided to meet after emailing for several weeks, he said.
Farook wrote that he met Malik in person in October 2013 in Saudi Arabia, where he had traveled for the Hajj: “My fiance and her family drove from Riyadh to Mecca so that we could meet and it is on this day that we got engaged.”
He said that he included in the application a copy of his Hajj visa, as well as copies of Malik’s passport pages that show she was also in Saudi Arabia at the same time.
Screening procedures and red flags
The release comes amid a heightened focus on screening procedures, and questions about whether red flags were missed in Malik’s application.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, said in a statement that it was clear to him that officials did not thoroughly vet her application.
“In order to obtain a fiancee visa, it is required to demonstrate proof that the U.S. citizen and foreign national have met in person. However, Malik’s immigration file does not show sufficient evidence for this requirement,” he said.
According to Goodlatte’s office, the stamps show Malik entering Saudi Arabia on June 4, 2013. It’s unclear when exactly in 2013 she left. Stamps in Farook’s passport show that he entered Saudi Arabia on October 1, 2013, and left around October 20, 2013.
“However, even if Farook and Malik were in Saudi Arabia at the same time, this does not provide evidence that they met in person. Additionally, Malik’s Saudi Arabian visa was good for only 60 days, so this would cast doubt on the claim that the two were in Saudi Arabia at the same time,” the statement read.
Malik came to the United States on a fiancee visa. She later obtained a green card.
Malik and Farook did in fact marry in California shortly after her arrival in the United States, as required under the terms of her visa, a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services official told CNN.
A USCIS spokesman said that officials thoroughly vet every application.
“Tashfeen Malik was subjected to numerous background checks at all stages that the agency handled her case, and those background checks did not reveal any derogatory information about Malik,” said spokesman Joseph Holstead.
“Tashfeen Malik’s immigration file contained sufficient evidence to establish that she intended to marry Syed Farook and that the two were together in Saudi Arabia before the fiancee petition was filed. The file, for example, contained an affidavit of their courtship and intent to marry, copies of passport stamps, biographic data and translated Saudi visas submitted in response to USCIS’s request for further evidence.
“This and other evidence provided was legally sufficient to establish that Malik was eligible for a fiance petition and issuance of a visa to travel to the United States,” he said.