U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Thursday defended Muslims after the San Bernardino, California, shooting on Wednesday that killed 14 people and wounded 17 others, adding that federal officials would take action in case of anti muslim rhetoric and activity.
“When we see the potential for someone to lift, lifting that mantle of anti muslim rhetoric or as we saw after 9/11 violence directed at individuals who may not even be Muslims but may be perceived to be Muslims and they will suffer just as well, just as much, and when we see that we will take action,” -US Attorney-General Loretta Lynch
Many community members said they were concerned about a backlash against the Muslim community in view of the rise of Islamic State and some opposition among politicians and the public in the United States over U.S. plans to accept Syrian war refugees.
The couple suspected of killing 14 people at a holiday party in California amassed thousands of rounds of ammunition and a dozen pipe bombs, authorities said on Thursday as they sought clues to the pair’s motives and whether they had links to Islamist militants.
Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 27, were killed in a shootout with police five hours after Wednesday’s massacre at the Inland Regional Center social services agency in the city of San Bernardino, about 60 miles (100 km) east of Los Angeles.
Farook, a U.S. citizen born in Illinois, was the son of Pakistani immigrants, according to Hussam Ayloush, who heads the Los Angeles area chapter of the Muslim advocacy group Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Malik, who had a 6-month-old daughter with Farook, was a Pakistani native living in Saudi Arabia when they married, Ayloush said.
The director of the Islamic Center of Riverside, a mosque Farook attended regularly for two years, described him as a devout Muslim who made the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia a few years ago and celebrated his wedding reception at the mosque.