The Home Ministry and intelligence agencies on Tuesday went back to old immigration records to determine whether Tashfeen Malik, the Pakistani woman suspect in the mass shooting in California’s San Bernardino, visited India in 2013, a year before she went to the US with her husband. According to Home Ministry sources, no official record of Malik’s visit to India was found.
The enquiries were prompted by a New York Times (NYT) report that quoted a Saudi Interior Ministry spokesperson as saying that Malik left Saudi Arabia for India in October 2013. As per the report, Maj Gen Mansour Turki told NYT via text message on Saturday that Malik visited the kingdom twice. In 2008, she arrived in June from Pakistan to visit her father and stayed for about nine weeks before returning to Pakistan, the report quoted Turki as saying.
“Then, in 2013, she arrived on June 8 from Pakistan and departed for India on Oct 6…,” it added.
As per the report, Turki gave her full name as Tashfeen Malik Gulzarahmed Malik and said his office did not know whether her father was still in the kingdom. However, the report did not give further details of whether Malik actually reached India.
A government source told The Indian Express Tuesday, “There is no record of her (Malik) ever having applied for an Indian visa.”
Sources said that India has asked Saudi Arabia to share travel details of Malik. It has also approached US investigators to share details, if any, about her visit to India, the sources added.
According to the NYT report, contradictory claims emerged from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan on where Malik spent her formative years. “Relatives and acquaintances of Ms Malik in Pakistan said she had grown up in Saudi Arabia and had been influenced by its deeply conservative interpretation of Islam. But Saudi officials denied she spent significant time in the kingdom… a few months in total,” the report stated.
It added that Malik’s relatives had said she had moved with her father, an engineer, from a remote district of Punjab province in Pakistan to Jidda, Saudi Arabia, when she was a child. “They said she had grown up there, and they attributed her adoption of a strict, conservative interpretation of Islam that involved not interacting with men outside her family and wearing a face veil to her time in Saudi Arabia,” it stated.
The report quoted Turki as saying there was “no evidence” that Malik met Farook in Saudi Arabia, but as per information provided by him, they were in kingdom at the same time for about five days in October 2013. American officials said the couple flew to the US together from Jidda in July 2014, the report adds.