The Council on American-Islamic Relations in Los Angeles pulled together a press conference after the name of one of the San Bernardino shooters was identified as Syed Farook.
Farook’s brother-in-law, Farhan Khan, was brought to the microphone by CAIR to make a family statement — but was shielded from questions about the degree of Farook’s faith or other details about the shooter.
Farook, a U.S. citizen, worked as an inspector for the county health department that was holding the Christmas party at the site of the shooting, the Inland Regional Center’s auditorium. Khan’s sister was married to Farook.
“We unequivocally condemn the horrific act that happened today,” said Hussam Auyloush, executive director of the CAIR chapter, at the press conference, adding “there is absolutely nothing that can justify” the mass shooting that killed 14 and wounded 17. He mused that the cause could be workplace violence, mental illness or extremism.
Muzammil Siddiqi, director of the Islamic Society of Orange County, said Southern California Muslims stood “in solidarity” with the victims and condemn the attack.
“We have condemned all violence everywhere,” Siddiqi said, adding they would like to see law enforcement conduct a full investigation including the “people and motives” behind the attack.
He asked people to “not implicate Islam or Muslims… our faith is against that kind of behavior.”
Khan was then brought to the microphone to say he was shocked and “very sad people lost their life.”
“I have no idea why he would do that, why he would do something like this,” he said, noting that he spoke to Farook about a week ago.
When reporters started peppering the brother-in-law with questions, Khan said, “I don’t want to get into all that.” Asked how devout Farook was, Khan said he didn’t know. “I have no idea why would he do that,” he said.
At that point, the CAIR director stepped in and said he spoke with Khan before the presser. “He truly doesn’t feel he’s informed enough to comment,” Auyloush said.
CAIR then brought up local Christian pastors to say the attack wasn’t about the Islamic faith.
The New York Daily News was able to speak with Farook’s father, also named Syed. “He was very religious. He would go to work, come back, go to pray, come back. He’s Muslim,” the dad said.
Neighbor Maria Gutierrez told the paper, “Maybe two years ago he became more religious. He grew a beard and started to wear religious clothing. The long shirt that’s like a dress and the cap on his head.”