Washington - US President Barack Obama met with the families of the victims of mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, and said he was moved by their emphasis on tolerance following the Dec. 2 attacks.
“As difficult as this time is for them and for the entire community, they also represent the strength and the unity and the love that exists in this community and in this country,” Obama told reporters after the meeting. The president and his family made a stop in San Bernardino Friday before they traveled to Hawaii that evening for their Christmas vacation. Obama spoke at a classroom at Indian Springs High school after a nearly-three hour meeting with the families of the victims and first responders.
“It was moving for Michelle and me in part because it was so representative of the country,” he said, noting the families came from every background and every faith. The president said all the victims had been extraordinarily proud of the work they had been doing to keep people healthy. Of the families, he remarked: “They’re all representative of the strength and the unity and the love in this community.”
“We have to remind ourselves of the overwhelming good that exists out there,” he added. The president also said despite the pain those affected was feeling, “they could not have been more inspiring and proud of their loved ones.” “It was a reminder of what’s good in this country,” Obama said. “I hope that’s something that gives all Americans a sense of pride and a sense of hope of hope as we go into our celebrations of our faith and our families and our country.”
The Dec 2 shooting at San Bernardino’s Inland Regional Center left 14 people dead and 22 injured. Suspects Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik were killed later that day in a shootout with police.
The FBI has been investigating the incident as an act of terrorism. Enrique Marquez, a friend and neighbor of Farook, was arrested Thursday and charged with “conspiring to provide material support to terrorists” and with making a “straw purchase” of the two rifles that were later used in the shootings. Moreover, A member of the US Congress Saturday accused immigration officials of allowing California attacker Tashfeen Malik into the country despite critical missing information in her request for a fiancee visa.
“After reviewing Tashfeen Malik’s immigration file, it is clear that immigration officials did not thoroughly vet her application,” House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte said in a statement. Malik, a 29-year-old Pakistani national, came to the United States last year on a fiancee visa, which Goodlatte said was issued despite a lack of proof that she had ever met her US-born husband, Syed Farook, 28.
Together the two shot dead 14 people and injured 22 at a social services center in San Bernardino, California earlier this month. The radicalized Muslim couple are believed to have been inspired, if not directed, by the Islamic State terror group.
“The immigration official reviewing Malik’s application requested more evidence to ensure the two met in person but it was never provided and her visa was approved anyway,” Goodlatte said. He added that the only pieces of evidence provided to show that the couple had been in Saudi Arabia at the same time — where they are said to have married — were a statement by Farook and pages from their passports.
However, the exit month and date on Malik’s passport was illegible, Goodlatte said, citing a translation provided by the Congressional Research Service.
Furthermore, Malik had a visa that was valid for only 60 days, which showed her entering Saudi Arabia in early June 2013 while Farook’s passport indicated he did not arrive until October 1, casting further doubt on whether they were in the country at the same time. “Even if Farook and Malik were in Saudi Arabia at the same time, this does not provide evidence that they met in person,” Goodlatte said.
The Republican congressman accused President Barack Obama’s administration of refusing to take necessary steps to fully vet visa applicants and said his committee was working on a bill “to strengthen visa processing security and protect national security.”
“Visa security is critical to national security, and it’s unacceptable that US Citizenship and Immigration Services did not fully vet Malik’s application and instead sloppily approved her visa,” he said. Of the 61 million temporary visitors to the United States in 2013, about 26,000 arrived in the United States on a K1 or “fiancee” visa, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).