Divers recover items at San Bernardino lake near site of massacre, FBI says

Posted at 10:24 AM, Dec 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-13 10:24:25-05

(CNN) — After days of scouring a San Bernardino lake for clues into this month’s terror attack, divers have recovered some items, the FBI said.

The search of Seccombe Lake is now over, the FBI said late Saturday night.

While the federal agency confirmed that divers found some items, it declined to comment on whether they are related to the mass shooting that left 14 people dead.

“I’d caution you that divers generally pull all sorts of items out of a public lake,” said Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the FBI.

Authorities are trying to piece together details on why married couple Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farook opened fire on the latter’s co-workers at a holiday party on December 2.

They are seeking the electronic trail of the killers and trying to find out whom they interacted with, how they hatched and carried out the plot, and why.

One of the items divers were likely looking for was a missing hard drive from the couple’s computer. Investigators believe the hard drive was removed as a way to hide information about the crime.

Lake is near site of massacre

David Bowdich, the assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles office, would not comment on what the divers were looking for. But the lake is a few miles from San Bernardino’s Inland Regional Center, where the massacre occurred.

The killers were in the area “at some point,” he said, but he did not specify if it was before or after the massacre.

As more details emerge on the couple, officials are also pursuing clues on who their contacts were.

Enrique Marquez, a former neighbor of Farook, the husband, told investigators the two previously built pipe bombs, law enforcement officials said.

Marquez spent several days being voluntarily interviewed by the FBI and portrayed the two men as hobbyists experimenting with building the devices, the officials said.

Marquez has emerged as a person of interest in the San Bernardino shootings because he bought rifles used in the attack.

He checked himself in to a mental health facility after the attack and has not been charged with a crime.

Jihadist friends

The FBI said Farook had ties to a group of jihadists arrested in California three years ago for attempting to travel to Afghanistan to join al Qaeda.

The couple tried to destroy their electronic tracks, but the FBI recovered some of those communications, two law enforcement officials said.

FBI Director James Comey said authorities found online discussions about jihad between Farook and Malik from late 2013, before they began dating.

The New York Times reported Sunday that U.S. immigration officials conducted three background checks on Malik when she emigrated from Pakistan but allegedly did not uncover social media postings in which she said she supported violent jihad and wanted to be a part of it. The paper, which attributed the information to American law enforcement officials, did not report on any specific posting but said Malik made no effort to obscure her views on jihad.

Online communications recovered so far indicate the two killers became radicalized long before carrying out the attack.

The FBI is still trying to recover information from two smashed cell phones found in a garbage can near the home.