Return to Transcripts main page


FBI Investigating Massacre As An "Act of Terror"; Official: Female Shooter Pledged Allegiance to ISIS; Inside The Killer's Home. Aired 7-8:00p ET

Aired December 4, 2015 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:08] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Next breaking news, the FBI investigating the shooting in San Bernardino is an act of terrorism. Did the female shooter radicalized her husband?

Plus, we'll take you inside the shooter's apartment where investigators believe they hatched the deadly plot surrounded by prayer books and their infant baby's toys.

And new details and images of the mother of a six-month-old who became a mass murderer. How investigators are now linking her to ISIS. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news inspired by ISIS. The FBI now officially investigating the massacre in San Bernardino as an act of terror. This, as we are getting the first image of Tashfeen Malik, this is the first time you've seen her face. U.S. officials believe she was inspired by ISIS. She posted her allegiance to the leader of the group Abu Bakr al Baghdadi on Facebook. That post literally went up as she and her husband, Syed Farook, launched their brutal attack and murdered 14 people. Moments ago, a stunning press conference with attorneys for Syed Farook's family. They claim there is no real evidence for terrorism and admitted the family knew little about Farook's wife.


MOHAMMAD ABUERSHAID, ATTORNEY FOR FAROOK FAMILY: They were very traditional. The family would go over to the house. They wouldn't all be together in the room. The women sat with the women and men sat with the men. But that's a very traditional way of acting. It wasn't anything that was different. So, the men didn't interact with her and the brothers did not actually ever see her face. They'd never seen her face because she did wear a burqa.


BURNETT: We'll have much more on that in a moment. But there was also this bizarre scene, what you're looking at here is what happened on live television. Dozens of reporters, news crews, curious onlookers from the neighborhood all went into the shooter's apartment. You see there, baby toys, a crib, computer ID cards, all of it. Everybody just picking up and touching whatever they wanted, moving it and looking at it. The building's landlord invited CNN and other media outlets to

look inside the apartment as law enforcement stood by and did not object. Later the FBI defended what many saw is a major blender allowing unfettered access to a crime scene. By saying that once they boarded the place up it has, quote, "nothing to do with us." Pretty stunning. Well, there are a lot of late-breaking developments on this story tonight.

I want to begin with Jim Sciutto. And Jim, the stunning press conference, the attorneys for Farook's family, talking, answering questions after question after question, and a lot of things that they had to say and the way they said it were very surprising.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It was one of the odder press conferences that I've seen. In effect, they make two arguments. One you referenced earlier with the clip you played. And they say that the family knew nothing about this and part of the way that they explained that is that, for instance, men and women did not spend time together. They were an observant Muslim family and that the wife Tashfeen Malik wore a burqa covering her face so that the male members of the family didn't even know, really know what she looked although at the same time they did they that they interacted a lot.

For instance in this garage where it's believed that they manufactured these pipe bombs, that there were playdates that took place inside there but they didn't see anything suspicious going on. But the other argument they make is they try to undermine the FBI's comment that terrorism is a possible explanation for this or rather that they are now investigating this as a terrorist case. Listen to what they had to say.


DAVID CHESLEY, FAROOK FAMILY ATTORNEY: I've checked out a Britney Spears post and I hate Britney Spears music. It doesn't mean that you condone whatever you look at or read or you fully believe and you're acting on behalf of whatever you look at or read.


SCIUTTO: The Britney Spears comment, he's saying that all the FBI has to say that this was terrorism inspired was because one of the shooters checked out a Jihadi website. That fact is our reporting showed, in fact Tashfeen Malik posted an expression of allegiance to the ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi as this deadly rampage was underway. So more than just checking out of website and let's say, just say it right out, to make a comparison to a Britney Spears website is an odd one to make in light to the seriousness of this case. And also, to be clear, Erin, as you know, we've reported that there were other signs as well, including contacts by phone and social media with known terrorist suspects overseas. So it was an interesting moment to watch, for sure.

BURNETT: All right. Jim Sciutto, thank you very much. I mean, it really was riveting. And tonight, U.S. officials say they have uncovered a chilling Facebook post that may link Farook's wife to ISIS.

Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Investigators are honing in on Tashfeen Malik, the wife and second shooter in the San Bernardino attack that claimed the lives of 14 people. Three U.S. officials familiar with the investigation say as the massacre was happening, Malik posted on Facebook a pledge of allegiance to ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. She is a woman few members of the Islamic Center in Riverside. Remember, that's the mosque Syed Rizwan Farook attended and celebrated his marriage to his wife last year.

(on camera): The service was in this room.


LAH: And so, the women were up there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Up there. Yes.

[19:05:24] LAH (voice-over): Women are separated from the men in this mosque so even Mustafa Kuko, the director of the Islamic Center never met Malik. She's a mystery to many here, including those who knew her best. According to attorneys for the Farook family, Syed's brothers never saw her face.

ABUERSHAID: Men did not interact with her and the brothers did not actually ever see her face. They've never seen her face because she did wear a burqa.

LAH: The couple first met like many today, on the web. Farook had joined a dating website. He came across Malik, a Pakistani citizen living in Saudi Arabia. He turned to Kuko for marital advice.

MUSTAFA KUKO, DIRECTOR, ISLAMIC CENTER OF RIVERSIDE: He said, I feel comfortable with this person and I believe she's a good woman, she's a decent woman. She's a religious woman.

LAH: Kuko says, Farook flew to Saudi Arabia to meet Malik in October 2013 during the Hajj Pilgrimage. He went again to Saudi Arabia in June, 2014. Documents show she entered the U.S. a month later. Their marriage certificate filed in Riverside County says, they were legally married in August of that year. Members of the mosque first met Malik at their wedding ceremony held here. Abdul Aziz Ahmed, Farook's friend, was among the 300 who attended the wedding.

ABDUL AZIZ AHMED, FAROOK'S FRIEND: When he comes here, he was looking good.

LAH (on camera): And then he disappeared?

AHMED: He disappeared, yes.

LAH (voice-over): After coming to this mosque every day for two years, Farook stopped.

AHMED: How can this happen? A guy who was very good, he doesn't have any problem with anybody, you don't hear him talking about those madmen, like the crazy terrorists. He never talked about those kinds of people.

LAH (on camera): Did the marriage change him?

AHMED: I suspect. I suspect.

LAH (voice-over): Farook's co-worker Christian Wadiki (ph) tells CBS News, he's certain the marriage changed Farook.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that he was radicalized?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. By the wife. I think he married a terrorist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He married a terrorist?


LAH: Most puzzling, say friends, Farook would be a good father and would have wanted to live a life with a family.

AHMED: I don't understand. How can a woman just leave her baby like this and go do some crap like this?


LAH: And just to give you an idea of how elusive she remained, at least in this community, there are 500 members of this mosque, registered members of this mosque. She attended services with her husband almost every single day but nobody at that mosque could identify her image. They don't remember what her voice sounded like. They don't remember anything about her personality -- Erin.

BURNETT: It's amazing and stunning how little we know. Kyung, thank you.

LAH: And OUTFRONT is Nizaam Ali, he attended the same mosque, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife. Nizaam, thank you very much for coming and talking to us. There are so many questions out there and perhaps you can answer some of them. You welcomed Farook into your mosque. You were one of the first who meet him when he came to your mosque a couple of years ago. What was your impression of him at that time?

NIZAAM ALI, ATTENDED SAME MOSQUES AS SHOOTER: I mean, until you know, what happened on Thursday, my impression was the same. You know, he was a gentleman, he was a very nice person, you know, everyone that knew him always talked highly of him. Until today. You know, the community is shocked. He was such a sweet, young man. And that was how he was from the day I met him until, you know, until we heard of this. So, you know, to try and puzzle this together, to try and understand this, I mean, it's really difficult for us, you know, the community that knew him, how could such individual that had such qualities, you know, do such a thing like this.

LAH: And Nizaam, you knew him before he was married. CBS News spoke to one of his colleagues who said Farook was different when he came home from Saudi Arabia. That is, of course, is where he met his wife. You saw him before he went. You saw him after he went, when he came home and was married. Did you see any kind of a change at all?

ALI: No. Absolutely not. And I also discussed this with my other members of, you know, my mosque, the other brothers. And they also said the same thing, that they didn't, you know, see any type of difference in him before and after coming back from Saudi Arabia after he got married. You know, my interaction with him was limited. Yes, it was frequent. Yes, I would see him, you know, as I mentioned, to the other interviews. I had met him at the mosque. He would come during his lunch break. So, as you know, he was working as a health inspector. So he would come at his lunch break to our local mosque and performed the noon prayer. So, after prayer, I would meet him, you know, and talk to for maybe five minutes or so. So, you know, I wasn't somebody that was an intimate friend of his. I was not someone who is in his inner circle so I wasn't somebody that knew any type of family problems that he had or any type of, you know, struggles that he was going through. He never shared anything like that with me, so.

[19:10:22] BURNETT: But it sounds like he was observant, right? He was devout, but no more so than you and a lot of other people at the mosque.

ALI: Absolutely. Right. Absolutely.

BURNETT: So, did he ever talk about his wife? Did you ever met his wife at the mosque or see her?

ALI: No. Because he was coming from work, he would, you know, there was no reason to bring his wife with him. I mean, he was coming from work. It's his lunch break. So, no, he never brought his wife to the mosque, to the San Bernardino mosque that I ever remember. I do remember seeing his wife at a banquet. As I mentioned to the other interviewers that I had participated in cooking the food for his banquet when he got married. So after he came back, we had a banquet at the mosque, at the Riverside mosque and that's where I remember seeing her in the car. But again, she had a veil, what we call niqab or burqa, you know, over her face. So, I wouldn't be able to describe how she looked, what was the color of her eyes, what was the color of her skin, how tall was she, was she skinny or was she fit, I can't answer any of things. I never saw her. He never described her. He never said anything about her. So, you know, I don't have any information on her.

BURNETT: Nizaam, he did have a six-month-old baby daughter with her though.

ALI: Yes.

BURNETT: And this is a part of the story that no one can understand.

ALI: Absolutely.

BURNETT: Did he ever talk about that baby?

ALI: No. Actually, I remember in the beginning when his wife was pregnant. I remember him mentioning that, you know, my wife is pregnant now and we know we hope that and we pray, you know, that God blesses him with a healthy baby and stuff like that. And we were waiting for him to, you know, give us the news of his wife, you know, giving birth. And when he did, when she did, you know, and when he told us, I remember, you know, he was joyful, he was happy. And at that time, I remember he mentioned that he was going to go back to school to, you know, pursue his master's degree.

So that alone told me, knowing that at that time and then learning of this, you know, I don't understand, you know, a person that's going to go and do his master's degree, you know, how could you have intention to do something like this as well. I mean, you know, learning or hearing that somebody is going to get their master's degree, that just says that a person has an exciting life he wants to get somewhere in life, especially when this was, you know, his -- his daughter is born now. So, to me that seemed like a signal of, you know, of him trying to, you know, progress in life, so to speak.

BURNETT: All right. Nizaam, well, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

ALI: No problem. All right. Bye-bye.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT now, the former CIA, counterterrorism official Phil Mudd. So, you just heard Nizaam. He knew Farook, saw him every single day at mosque.


BURNETT: He said Farook didn't change after he got married. But you know intelligent authorities believes she may have been the one, his wife, who radicalized him. What do you believe her role was in the attack?

MUDD: I think there's a couple ways you got to look at her role. The first is the radicalization role that you're pointing too. My sense, and this is really unusual, I never remember seeing this in a case at the bureau, at the FBI, at the agency. She was at least an equal partner in the operation. In the first years after 9/11, Erin, I don't remember a single female ever cropping up in any threat report and we talked every night, maybe a thousand threat briefings. So, there's a radicalization piece among equals, which is unusual.

The second piece, Erin, is even more important. Emotional bond. Two individuals are making a choice to murder innocence as a result potentially of a political or religious belief. I don't believe independently they make that choice. People together bounce off each other and persuade each other that this radical act is acceptable. One of the most troubling cases I ever witnessed, for example, was a father in North Carolina in a case that's already been prosecuted --


MUDD: -- on the wires, in other words, intercepts we had him telling his sons to take head shots at federal officials. Unbelievable.

BURNETT: So, the couple also had this six-month-old baby.

MUDD: Yes.

BURNETT: Which is a part of this that is obviously crucial but no one understands.

MUDD: Yes.

BURNETT: You heard Nizaam's say, Farook was very proud, he used the word "joyful" when that baby was born. They actually registered online for baby gifts at Target. This is one of the few things we know that did online. They registered for baby gifts. How does this fit? How did they walked away -- how did she walked away from a newborn?

MUDD: Pretty -- I think there's a simple explanation. It has two characteristics. Number one is compartmentation which we talked about. Case after case, the family says, hey, they seemed normal. They had a normal family life. They had a child. But they had a separate life that we never witnessed. The other is, what's their motivation for conducting the attack? It's a religious motivation that for them is much more significant, a higher calling than a child. They're saying, the pain we have to undergo to practice what we believe is we're sacrificing the child. Their cause is so powerful that they will sacrifice anything for it.

BURNETT: All right. Phil, thank you very much.

MUDD: Thank you.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, we're going to go inside the shooters' home, left behind everything from their computer to the chilling pictures of their baby's toys and her crib.

[19:15:12] Plus, new details about how the two shooter's met, was the marriage a front for terror? And we're learning about the innocent victims killed in the attacks. Parents, husbands, wives, co- workers killed at their holiday party.


[19:18:40] BURNETT: Breaking news, for the first time, we're learning what exactly the FBI seized from the apartment belonging to the San Bernardino killers. According to documents, more than 52 hundred rounds of ammunitions, cell phones, prepaid phone cards and remote controlled cars, we know that those were used to make at least one bomb. Tonight, we also know what was left behind. After the FBI handed the killer's apartment back over to the landlord, he let CNN and anyone else who wanted to come in, other media networks, neighbors, someone came in with a baby, someone brought a dog, they went room to room, picking up, looking at pictures, clothes, toys and other personal belongings that were left behind by the killer couple.

Stephanie Elam was there inside that home and she's OUTFRONT.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Unfinished food on the counter, broken glass on the living room floor, this is the townhouse that was shared by San Bernardino mass shooters Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik. Signs of a former crime scene mixed with baby toys for their six month old daughter. In a room upstairs, the baby's crib is to one side, a small desk with a computer is in another corner. The back bedroom holding more clues about the family.

(on camera): I was the first person to walk into this room and saw how it was before everyone started touching it. And you can see that police did go through and looked at many things. I don't want to show you these I.D.s over here just because I don't want to show you those addresses that are on there. But I do believe that they belong to the mother of Farook, based on the ages that are there. But you could see that there are some prayer books, there are also some pictures. When I first walked in, this group of prayer beads was sitting right here on the edge of the bed when I walked in as well.

Several prayer books that were all around the side of the bed here. Some business cards. And plenty of the normal trappings that you would expect to see in the bedroom. You know, I would see receipt for stores, normal store purchases, I see lotions and creams, and dressers and that sort of things. But one of the things, there's so much media in here. But I want to show you, one of the thing that you can see here is this and this is what I was telling you about before, this right here. If you look up here, you can where they smashed up into the ceiling to take a look to see what was up there. It does appear, based upon how much debris is on the ground, that there was an effort to get up there and make sure that they checked every crevice of this back bedroom and it does seems like it may have been the main bedroom that was here.

But plenty of I.D.s, I've seen driver licenses, Social Security cards, plenty of things that are around here as well as plenty of signs of faith. A lot of signs of faith here. You see a lot of signs of these being people who believed in their faith and also referencing it. There are stickers and so forth all throughout the room but a lot of paperwork and also a lot of luggage up here as well, too. But it just looks like it's been stashed over in the corner but definitely signs that this has been a room that has been ransacked by, not before the media got here but before the police as well.

(voice-over): Doyle Miller, the landlord of the property invited the media inside. A surprising move because the investigation is still in the early stages.

DOYLE MILLER, SHOOTER'S LANDLORD: I need to assess the damage.


MILLER: It's a lot worse than what I thought.

ELAM: But the FBI under fire for allowing the landlord and media to enter the home, explaining they were no longer responsible for the apartment since they released it last night.

DAVID BOWDICH, FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: We executed a search warrant on that apartment and last night we turned that over back to the residents. Once the residents have the apartment and we're not in it anymore, we don't control it.


ELAM: And there was a lot of discussion about the garage of this house, that this is where we've heard reports that this is where they were making pipe bombs as a couple. We did take a look at that. The garage is actually separated Erin, from this building. That part completely secure. You could not get in there. So no signs of that sort of activity was inside of the actual household -- Erin.

BURNETT: Pretty incredible stuff, Stephanie. Just incredible to see you in there and all of the other media. I mean, the scene that was happening in there was stunning, given the fact that so many things hadn't been removed by law enforcement. Thank you so much. An incredible report.

OUTFRONT now, Chris Swecker, a former assistant director of the FBI. And former U.S. Marshal Art Roderick. Art, let me start with you. You saw Stephanie's report, CNN, other media coming into the home. They can pick up -- computer still on their desk. You saw Stephanie's footage of a document, she said licenses, Social Security cards, passports, I mean, lots of different I.D.s. There was even a shredder with shredded paper in it. The FBI says, we didn't do anything wrong, we were done search in the home, we've done anything we need, do you think that's really the case?

[19:23:15] ART RODERICK, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR INVESTIGATIONS, U.S. MARSHALS: I mean, I guess we have to take their word for it. Just when you think this case couldn't get any stranger, stuff like this happens today. I mean, you know, I have been in law enforcement for 38 years. I've never seen an open house hosted like this by the owner of the shooter's property there. It's a bizarre case. Should they have left all of that stuff? They seem to be fairly confident that they got everything out that they needed. You know, I would have probably taken every single possible item out of that place that had any association with the wife or the husband. In metro, we went through it with a fine-tooth comb. But as you heard the sack announce that, you know, they got everything out of there that they needed and turned the residence over to the owner.

BURNETT: I mean, Chris, it does seem confusing though, right? I mean, the shredder had shredded paper in it. How would you know if you needed to put that together or not? And the I.D.s, wouldn't you just take everything? I mean, it is pretty shocking that things like that were sitting around.

CHRIS SWECKER, FORMER ASSISTANT, FBI DIRECTOR: Yes. I'm a little surprised. Their evidence response teams are very, very thorough. And when you're going into a house like that with a search warrant, you're very limited in what you can take. I mean, it's based on probable cause, you're looking for indicia, of terrorism and evidence or fruits of the crime. So, they may have decided that what they left behind had no relevance to the crime itself or no indicia of terrorism.

BURNETT: So, what about Art, the two smashed cell phones? They did said they found two smashed cell phones that they took from a garbage can near one of the crime scenes. So not in the homes but near one of the crime scenes. And they say these phones are relatively new. So maybe they were, you know, using burner phones or these phones could have some sort of a trail possibly. Do you think that they're going to be able to put them back together? Art?

SWECKER: Is that for me?


RODERICK: I think when you look -- what do you want to go to Erin? When you're looking at this type of cell phones, I mean, in any types of these cases, you always try to find out how these individuals are communicating. To come across a cell phone, a computer, hard drives, any of that information is key. Now, they should be able to know fairly quickly if they are able to get information off and how much damage was actually done to the phone or the hard drives. So I think we'll know fairly soon if they were able to at least get something off of it back in Quantico at the cyber-lab. But it might take some type to actually withdraw the information out of there.

BURNETT: And Chris, what about -- when we look at those I.D.s, I mean, one of them belonged to, appeared to belong to Farook's mother. A neighbor had told me that she was the one, she often saw taking care of the child. So, if she wasn't living there, she was there a lot of the time. His mother. And was staying at that apartment for some period of time. Is it possible that she had no idea that this was going on, where she was living, building bombs?

SWECKER: Kind of hard to believe that she didn't know what was going on around her, living in the apartment and, you know, I would go back to what you mentioned about her I.D. I'm sure the FBI photographed everything that was in that apartment or in that townhouse. So they -- I don't think that they felt like what they left behind was relevant. Now, again, the mother, I mean, the grandmother, that's pretty much of a stretch especially since there were so many IEDs laying around, it looked like an IED factory apparently.

BURNETT: Yes. Pretty shocking. You know, the people that know and say nothing or do nothing, or even a clue. Thank you both very much.

OUTFRONT next, we're learning more about the male shooter, Syed Farook. He's been called a shy and troubled man. Did his wife target him for radicalization or not?

And is it only called a terror attack when Muslims are involved?


[19:30:59] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news, the FBI investigating the massacre in San Bernardino is an act of terrorism. Tonight, authorities are piecing together what motivated the couple behind the rampage.

Officials telling CNN that Tashfeen Malik, the wife of Syed Rizwan Farook, pledge allegiance to ISIS on Facebook. You can see her face here. She's someone who is so much of a mystery, no online presence that anyone was aware of. This is, today, the first picture we are actually getting of her. And more details are emerging about Farook's upbringing tonight.

Drew Griffin is OUTFRONT tonight.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): A glimpse of the confusion inside a family searching for answers in an interview with CBS News.

SAIRA KHAN, SYED RIZWAN FAROOK'S SISTER: I asked myself if I had called him that morning or the night before, asked him how he was doing, what he was up to, if I had any inclination, maybe I could have stopped it. She's always shy and quite.

GRIFFIN: Saira Khan is describing her little brother Syed Rizwan Farook, so shy he used dating sites to find a girlfriend, posting preferences that he liked to go out to cars, go out to restaurants, take target practice in his backyard and was looking for a girl who wears a hijab, a veil.

It was one of these dating sites that would take him to Saudi Arabia where he would meet his even eventual wife and now dead accomplished. Tashfeen Malik is a mystery. A Pakistani who lived in Saudi Arabia and came to the United States, married Farook, had a child and seemingly left an impression on almost no one.

MOHAMMED ABUERSHAID, FAROOK FAMILY ATTORNEY: She was very conservative. She was a stay-at-home mom. She was helping raising the child. She has helped taking care of the mother at the house. They were a very close-knit family. Not too many people knew anything about them.

GRIFFIN: Despite becoming even more quiet and reserved after marriage, Syed Rizwan Farook and his immediate family were living a typical American life. He grew up one of three siblings living through a turbulent marriage between their parents. Syed Farook himself finished college, was being paid $53,000 a year as a health inspector. The trail to radicalization, according to the family, and so far, any record is simply not there.

KHAN: We are also mourning the loss of someone we knew or thought we knew. We would want everybody to give us some time to mourn or, you know, give some time, I guess. Just like everybody else out there needs time to mourn.


GRIFFIN: Erin, the family did reportedly sit for hours of interviews with the FBI, the agents, trying to find any link, any connection to anything that would explain this. According to the family attorneys, those agents left just as perplexed as the family -- Erin.

BURNETT: It is amazing. Drew Griffin, thank you.

And OUTFRONT now, the former FBI supervisory special agent in behavioral analysis unit, Jim Clemente, along with our terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank.

Paul, you know, they are so perplexed and in other cases of lone wolf or ISIS-inspired terror in the United States, the trail to radicalization became very quickly apparent after an attack. It was the questions that we were asking were, how did they not see it, right? And military recruitment center attack in Tennessee, everyone at the mosque said they noticed a change, in the case of the Boston bombers.

But in this case, no one seems to have seen very much. Right before the attacks, she posted on Facebook, I pledge allegiance to ISIS. That's all they've got. Is that shocking?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: It's very surprising in some ways for everybody, that they wouldn't be on the radar screen, of course. But it seems that they were on the very edge of the radar screen for a sort of FBI point of view. They've clearly gone back and they've looked through all of the contacts and they've established that there are some sort of interesting contacts to extremists that were, Erin, on their radar screen.

[19:35:01] But you've got to remember that the sheer scale of this threat is very high and there's been a large number of people that they are having to monitor. So, it's really just a question of prioritizing all the time.

BURNETT: So, Jim, as Farook and his wife were planning this attack, and we know it was planned and meticulously planned, we don't know how long, we do know that they did not show any outward signs of radicalization, at least according to pretty much everyone we've spoken to so far.

A friend earlier on the show saw him every single day. He said at lunch at mosques that he never noticed a change. His family says they never noticed anything. I mean, you just heard his sister.

Here's a little bit more of what she had to say.


DAVID CHESLEY, FAROOK FAMILY ATTORNEY: They were totally shocked. Had no idea to the point where when they got word that an incident had taken place, they were worried about the health and safety of Syed and Tashfeen because they had so -- it was just -- there's never been any evidence that either of the two alleged shooters were aggressive, had extremist views.


BURNETT: Jim, that was the attorney for the family. But it echoes what a lot of people have said. You know, are you surprised that we haven't heard anybody really come forward and talk about their radicalization?

JIM CLEMENTE, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Well, Erin, I think this is one of the most disturbing parts of the whole puzzle because we know now that they have been planning for quite some time.

So this means that they had a criminal sophistication level that was fairly high in terms of keeping their plans, their training, their operations all secret. So, they must have been coached very well on how to do that. This gives me a lot of indicators that perhaps she was a plant. She was actually deliberately put into his life to do this.

BURNETT: Interesting. A plant, of course, and the question is, by whom? I mean, ISIS coming out today and applauding this, but not taking credit for it.

Paul, a lot of people still find it hard to believe that a mother would take part of this attack, knowing she could be killed, leave her child behind. She did have a 6 month old baby. It's contrary to human nature.

But a recent study found one in seven recruits for ISIS are women. Are we going to see more of this? That used to be the category of person we used to say, we don't need to look at them.

CRUICKSHANK: Yes. I mean, we've seen more than 500 women, well more than 500 women go from the West, extremists, go and travel to join ISIS and other groups over there and women are becoming more involved. We've seen these husband and wife teams over the years, Erin, getting involved in terrorism.

This is a social movement now when it comes to ISIS. You're talking about mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters, all getting involved in this, all energized by that this caliphate of ISIS has been declared and many of them angered by the Western strikes against it.

So, we're seeing that this social movement, really, when it comes to this ISIS. I think a lot of Americans tonight will be shocked that this couple could have left their very young baby behind. But they believe -- the extremists believe that not only you will go to paradise but your close relatives will also go to paradise if you do jihad, if you die as a master as they see it. So that gives you some indication of their extremist beliefs, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much. And OUTFRONT next, some are calling this the worst terror attack

since 9/11. Is it only a terror attack when Muslims are involved?

And remembering the victims of the San Bernardino shooting.


[19:42:44] BURNETT: Breaking news, U.S. officials now believe Tashfeen Malik, the female shooter who murdered 14 people in San Bernardino, may have been inspired by ISIS. Moments ago, though, an attorney for her husband's family, the male shooter's family, said they warned against calling the attack an act of terror.


CHESLEY: When a Christian blows up a Planned Parenthood or an extreme Catholic goes and bombs an abortion clinic, all of the headlines don't say extremist radical Christian Catholic, Christian Catholic, Christian Catholic, just like right now every headline is saying, Muslim, and attaching Muslim to it.

I just think there's a tendency to take a cookie cutter version or paradigm of a terrorist-type event and superimpose it on a situation just because that person is of Muslim belief or tradition. And I don't think we should jump to too many conclusions.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT tonight, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, and Harris Zafar, national spokesperson for Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA.

So, let me start with you, Harris. Some people have been saying this is the worst terror attack since 9/11 in the United States. What do you say?

HARRIS ZAFAR, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, AHMADIYYA MUSLIM COMMUNITY: Well, to be honest, Erin, the facts show to us that we don't contest that label. It does look like the nature of the case is terrorism and not due to the fact that it's a Muslim but due to the nature of the crime is. This Newtown, what happened at Planned Parenthood, what the Buddhist monks are doing in Myanmar, we consider all that terrorism.

But I believe the greater point here is no the semantics and labels, because American people are more worried about how to stop it than what caused it, which is --

BURNETT: Let me interrupt you. When you say Newtown was terror, more people died in Newtown than died in San Bernardino. So, you would be taking issue with this being the worst terror attack since 9/11 in the U.S.? You're saying they are all terror but that label would be unfair, in your view?

ZAFAR: I do believe that -- to compare innocent lives is probably not very valuable. It's really about that these are all acts of terror happening in our country, so we should talk about not just the labels about the solutions, how do we stop groups like Daesh, how do we stop radicalization, how do we stop these mass shootings that are gripping our nation?

And our point of view is that leadership matters.

[19:45:00] Look at the leaders who are guiding these people in a certain direction, especially these disturbed people which is why we would say look at case studies, like, as an example, the Khalifa of Islam, his holiness who is the spiritual leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community who spent a lot of time taking active role on the lives of tens of millions of Muslims in 207 countries around the world on how to embody peace and love as opposed to brutality and injustice. And so, there is something to be said there.

BURNETT: Bernie, it is when people say worse since 9/11, there is an immediate fear that a lot of people fear when they hear this is an act of Islamic terrorism, Islamic terror. But if Newtown is an act of terror and did of course inspire terror around the nation, more people tragically died, then this wouldn't be the worst since 9/11.

Is this nation too quick to use the word terror only when it applies to Muslim acts?

BERNARD KERIK, FORMER NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: No, I don't think so. I sort of have to agree with Harris. You know, each one of these events can be related to terrorism in some way, the threat of violence, you know, the threat, the intimidation.

The reality is in this, the principal focus is this radical extremism. I think this is just the beginning. You know, I listened to your prior segment and I have to say, you know, these guys got under the radar. You're going to see a lot more of this. The al Qaeda training manuals, they tell these people, they teach these people how to get under the radar, what kind of communications to use, how to stay off social media, shave their beards, do all of this stuff.

I think you're going to see more of this in the future.

BURNETT: Bernie, it's too much of a focus, I mean, all of these things are horrible and need to be focused on and stopped. But, you know, some people say look at the number of gun deaths in America at the hands of white people who are mentally ill and that number dwarfs. They say, why you so focused on Islamic terror. They say, why are we so focused on the issue of Islamic terror, that's only when that word Islam is attached to it that people focused on.

KERIK: I think the principal focus right now is these attacks have increased since September 11th, whether it's in Paris, whether it's here.

And what Harris said is most important. How do we stop the radicalization? How do we prevent these attacks from happening? Where is the next attack going to happen and how do we identify those that are in the country already? And the FBI is already monitoring, according to James Comey, more than 900 people. You know, that's a major, major concern.

ZAFAR: And to --

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.

And next, we're learning more about the 14 people who lost their lives in this horrific shooting -- men and women who worked together, they were at their holiday party and that was their last day.


BURNETT: Tonight as the FBI is investigating the San Bernardino massacre as an act of terror, we are learning much more about the victims of this horrific attack.

Boris Sanchez is OUTFRONT.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For the loved ones of the 14 people killed in the San Bernardino shooting, the emotional toll is immeasurable.

Jennifer Thalasinos lost her husband Nicholas, and his death may provide investigators with more clues about the massacre. According to a friend, the 52-year-old born-again messianic Jew had a heated passionate conversation about politics and religion with his co-worker and gunman, Syed Rizwan Farook, just days before the shooting.

JENNIFER THALASINOS, WIFE OF NICHOLAS THALASINOS: I'm sure he would have talked to him and probably evangelize with him. I'm sure they would have had discussions with religion because my husband would discuss religion with anybody that would listen.

SANCHEZ: Those close to Robert Adams tell CNN the 40-year-old always wanted to be a father. He married his high school sweetheart, Summer, and finally got his wish last year when she gave birth to Savannah. The couple had plans to take their 20-month-old to Disneyland next week.

Bennetta Bet-Badal, a mother of three, moved to the U.S. from Iran when she was 18 to escape religious persecution. The 46-year-old was giving a presentation to her colleagues when the shooters opened fire. Her husband says everything she touched bloomed and her daughter, 15-year-old Jolene, is left with the memory of her mother's advice.

JOLENE, DAUGHTER OF BENETTA BETBADAL: She used to tell me that, like, if I do go, I want to like, I want everybody like stay strong. I don't want you guys like grieving or like crying. That's like what is taking into place and like, just I'm going off of that.

SANCHEZ: Michael Wetzel leaves behind six children. On a fundraising Web site for his family, his wife writes, quote, "I didn't know a better person. He loved his work and his family so very much. Without him, this family will never be the same. We appreciate all the love and support that everyone is showing."

Daniel Kaufman worked at a coffee shop at the Inland Regional Center.

RYAN REYES, BOYFRIEND OF DANIEL KAUFMAN: People said his smile would light up the room. This was actually true of Daniel.

SANCHEZ: Hours after the shooting, Ryan Reyes said he tried to reach his boyfriend again and again to no avail. "The L.A. Times" captured this photo when he finally got the news that his partner was gone.

REYES: Unfortunately, it's events like this that really show you how important people are and how much people can actually impact other people's lives.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: What did he mean to you?

REYES: He meant the world to me. He meant the absolute world to me.


SANCHEZ: Back to Nicholas Thalasinos, there is a very eerie coincidence there and he was some who's known to be very outspoken about his religious beliefs on social media. The day before the shooting on Tuesday, he said that he received a death threat he was having an argument with online. There was no indication, it's very important to point out, that in any way that death threat developed into what happened on Wednesday. The two appear to be completely separated. Again, just an eerie coincidence.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you so much.

And among the victims, there are a number of heroes, people who tried to save others and this weekend, CNN honors our heroes.



ANNOUNCER: Our heroes don't fly, they soar.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't see barriers. I see solutions.


[19:55:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Connecting with the communities along the way helped reestablish your faith in humanity.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't give up on yourself because you still worry.

ANNOUNCER: See the stars come out to celebrate the change makers.

KATHY GRIFFIN, COMEDIENNE & CNN HEROES ALL-STAR TRIBUTE HOST: We all love to pay tribute and this is a way we can.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People living the work they are doing every day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really, really, really, really inspiring.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please join me in honoring "CNN Hero" --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's no time to waste.

ANNOUNCER: The top-10 "CNN Heroes" of 2015.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an honor to be recognized.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is an amazing honor.



ANNOUNCER: Join Anderson Cooper for "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute," Sunday night at 8:00.



BURNETT: Thanks for joining us. And be set your DVR to record OUTFRONT, so you can watch the show anytime. We hope you have a safe weekend.

"AC360" begins right now.