An Open Wound

We have become numb to violence in this nation. It’s not our faults, but the fault of the criminals who set out to kill innocent people and strike fear into those around them. We no longer get that dropping feeling in the pit of our stomachs when breaking news flashes across our eyes showing body counts. Now, that feeling is replaced with an aching in our hearts that feels all too familiar. A feeling that has never had time to heal, so it’s just become an open wound that never has time to subside.

It’s a sad day when it’s hard to name the attacks that have happened within the year, not only in this country, but even in other countries. Most recently, Paris has been in our prayers. Before that, it was Beirut. It was Sandy Hook. It was Aurora. It was Boston.

We are a nation divided. What will end the violence? What will end the innocent bloodshed? Everyone has an opinion. More guns, less guns. Stricter immigration laws. Better mental health counseling. Less video games. Less bullying.

It seems like nothing is off the table. Some is domestic, some is foreign terrorism. On Wednesday, the wound was further aggravated in Americans everywhere.

On Wednesday morning, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik were a normal American couple. They dropped their daughter off at a relative’s house for the day. They were on their way to a doctor’s appointment. To their family and any acquaintances, they seemed like an average couple. They went to work each day, cared for their 6-month-old daughter, and spent time with their family. They met on an online dating website, and Malik was brought over from Saudi Arabia and they were married. Farook’s co-workers described him as quiet, but average. He worked hard each day. His brother-in-law saw him only a week earlier. They spoke about their families, work, and trying to lose weight. No one saw what was coming.

At 11 a.m., everything changed in San Bernardino, California. Dressed for battle, they opened fire on Farook’s place of work, a social services center for the disabled. They killed 14 people. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, husbands, wives. Twenty-one others were injured. Later that day, Farook and Malik were killed in a shootout with police, leaving behind their now orphaned 6-month-old daughter.

It has become clear to us now that the attack was an act of terrorism. Their home was a stockpile of assault rifles, semi-automatic handguns, and ammunition. Enough bullets and bombs were found that could slaughter hundreds of people. 1,600 rounds of ammunition were found in their SUV after police killed them. 12 pipe bombs were found in their home, along with bomb making materials and tools, and over 3,000 additional rounds of ammunition. Who knows what their plans were had they escaped from police. Would they have targeted somewhere else? Would they have planted bombs? Several bombs were found nearby, but were able to be disarmed before they were detonated.

Farook’s family insists he showed no behavior that was radical leading up to this. He grew up in California and had a normal life. He was a devout Muslim who prayed each day and had memorized the Quran. He attended mosque regularly with his brothers. One day about three weeks ago, he stopped attending.

Malik followed Islam very closely, wearing a hijab each day. Her background is still murky, but she seems to have been radicalized at some point, and recruited Farook. A Facebook account she had under an alias was found that showed her pledge to ISIS. She came to American in July of 2014 on a fiancée visa. In order to receive the visa, she had to submit to an interview and extensive background checks to analyze if she posed a threat.

By August, they were married.

While it’s unclear if their attack was a direct order, what is clear is that they were acting as terrorists.

The rampage on Wednesday was the deadliest mass shooting in American since the shooting at Sandy Hook in 2012, when 26 children and adults were killed in the town of Newtown, Connecticut. This is the deadliest act of terrorism in the country since the terror attacks on September 11, 2001.