Before Coming to US, Malik Praised Jihad on Facebook

Legislation may force review of applicants' social media posts
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2015 6:42 AM CST
Before Coming to US, Malik Praised Jihad on Facebook
This July 27, 2014 photo shows Tashfeen Malik, left, and Syed Farook.   (U.S. Customs and Border Protection via AP)

Tashfeen Malik pledged her support for Islamic jihad in private Facebook messages sent before she entered the United States on a K-1 fiancee visa in July 2014. Malik, who wrote that she hoped to eventually become a jihadist, sent the messages written in Urdu "to a small group of her friends" in Pakistan in 2012 and 2014, using a pseudonym, officials tell the Los Angeles Times and ABC News. A State Department rep says authorities are now reviewing whether the K-1 visa screening process should include social media checks. Currently, applicants must pass checks of US criminal, immigration, and terrorism databases, and a consular interview. "If a consular officer … feels like it would be valuable or necessary to look at the social media presence of an individual, they can and do conduct those reviews," the rep adds. "But it's not absolute in every case. Each one is taken individually."

A Homeland Security rep says authorities only began reviewing public social media posts in the fall of 2014, after Malik had entered the US. "There were concerns from a privacy and civil liberties perspective that while this was not illegal, that it would be viewed negatively if it was disclosed publicly," says a former official about why the policy previously prevented such social media reviews. It isn't clear if Malik's support for jihad would have been discovered in a social media check because of her pseudonym and privacy settings. On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee announced it's writing legislation that would require officials to review "open source information" like social media posts, reports ABC News. It will also propose in-person interviews with the applicant and sponsor "at each step in the process," the panel says. (More Tashfeen Malik stories.)

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