WASHINGTON/SAN BERNARDINO - Islamic militant groups ignored contact attempts from Pakistan-born Tashfeen Malik in the months before she and her husband killed 14 people at a California holiday party, probably because they feared getting caught in a US law enforcement sting, US government sources said on Thursday.
Disclosures of her to extremists abroad surfaced as the investigation of the Dec. 2 shooting rampage in San Bernardino, about 60 miles (100 km) east of Los Angeles, appeared to take a new turn with divers searching a small lake near the scene of the massacre.
The number of organizations that Malik, 29, tried to contact and how she sought to reach them was unclear, but the groups almost certainly included al-Qaida's Syria-based official affiliate, the Nusrah Front, the government sources said.
One source said investigators have little, if any, evidence that Malik or her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, had any direct contact with Islamic State, which has seized control of large swaths of Syria and Iraq and claimed responsibility for assaults in Paris last month that left 130 people dead.
FBI Director James Comey has said Malik and Farook declared at about the time of their attack that they were acting on behalf of Islamic State, which in turn has embraced the couple as among its followers.
But US government sources have said there was no evidence that the Islamic State even knew of the couple before the killings.
Militant groups sought out by Malik likely ignored her approaches because they have become extremely wary of responding to outsiders they do not know or who have not been introduced to them, sources said.