Legal battle

Baby orphaned by San Bernardino shooters now at center of custody dispute

A reporter does a live shot inside the home of shooting suspect Syed Farook on December 4, 2015 in Redlands, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The 6-month-old baby girl orphaned by Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the husband and wife who died in a gun battle with police earlier this month after authorities say they carried out the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, is still in the custody of San Bernardino County child protective services. The little girl, born on May 21, has likely been placed temporarily with a foster family. Farook’s older sister, Saira Khan, and her husband, Farhan Khan, are seeking custody of the child. Saira, who in the days immediately following the attack questioned why her brother and sister-in-law would launch such an attack and abandon their only child, has said she and her husband could provide the baby with a “stable upbringing.” They have two children, a 7-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter. So, why, nearly two weeks since the baby’s parents were killed, has a decision still not been made? San Bernardino County officials have declined to comment on the pending case, but Richard Wexler, executive director of the Alexandria, Va.-based National Coalition for Child Protection Reform told The Washington Post that decisions such as these typically don’t take long, and usually children are placed with relatives. “What’s taking so long is the fear of public backlash,” Wexler speculated. “There frankly shouldn’t be an issue unless there is strong evidence the relatives were involved with the plot.”

Farook and Malik left the baby in the care of Farook’s mother, Rafia Farook, who lived with the couple. She and other family members have been questioned extensively by the FBI and have not been named as suspects in the case. They’ve denied having any knowledge of Farook and Malik’s plans.

A screen shot shows the baby’s aunt Saira Khan, the older sister of Tashfeen Malik, and her husband Farhan Khan, who are seeking custody of the baby.

A screen shot shows the baby’s aunt Saira Khan, the older sister of Tashfeen Malik, and her husband Farhan Khan, who are seeking custody of the baby.

In other developments surrounding the San Bernardino shooting, CNN reported that the remarks Malik had made on Facebook in support of jihad were difficult to discover because they were made under a pseudonym and protected by the use of strict privacy settings. Nevertheless, President Obama will reportedly review the policy that prevented Department of Homeland Security agents from scrutinizing the social media footprints of all U.S. visa applicants.

Finally, officials in San Bernardino will not press domestic violence charges against Syeed Rizwan Farook’s older brother Syeed Raheel Farook. The 30-year-old sibling was initially misidentified by some news outlets as the shooter in the hours following the attack. Police had asked for a misdemeanor domestic battery charge to be filed against Farook after being called to his home during a domestic dispute on December 5. In the days following, detectives looked into allegations against him, but prosecutors decided not to press charges citing a lack of evidence. The older brother served in the U.S. Navy from 2003-2007.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

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