New York, Dec 8: The Pakistani woman suspect in the California mass shooting may have travelled to India from Saudi Arabia once in 2013, a year before she came to the US with her husband, a media report said today.
Tashfeen Malik, 27, had visited Saudi Arabia twice, the New York Times quoted a Saudi Interior Ministry official as saying. After one of the visits to the kingdom, she had left for India, the report said.
The report quoted Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour Turki as saying that Malik had arrived in Saudi Arabia in June, 2008 from Pakistan to visit her father and stayed for about nine weeks before returning to Pakistan.
"Then, in 2013, she arrived on June 8, from Pakistan, and departed for India on October 6 of the same year," Turki was quoted as saying in the NYT report.
But there is no further detail about whether Malik had reached India or for how long and where in India she stayed.
The details of her life before arriving in the US emerged as investigators probed the background and motivation of Malik and her Pakistani-American husband Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, for carrying out last week's mass shooting that killed 14 people before both were shot dead by police.
Turki said there was "no evidence" that Malik had met her husband in the kingdom, but they were in Saudi Arabia at the same time for about five days in October 2013.
Farook visited Saudi Arabia twice, once for the Hajj pilgrimage in October, 2013, and once for an off-season Umraah pilgrimage for nine days in July, 2014.
American officials reported that the couple flew to the US together from Jeddah in July, 2014.
The NYT report said that according to Malik's relatives and acquaintances in Pakistan, she had grown up in Saudi Arabia and had been influenced by its deeply conservative interpretation of Islam.
Saudi officials however denied that she spent significant time in the kingdom, saying she visited only twice, for a few months in total.
Malik had moved with her father, an engineer, from Punjab province in Pakistan to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, when she was a young child, the report said adding that from 2007 to around 2012, Malik studied in Multan where one faculty member recalled her as a "Saudi girl" because her religious observance was so much stricter than that of her peers.
She obtained her place as a pharmacy student at Bahauddin Zakariya University under a quota system that reserves spots for the children of expatriate Pakistanis suggesting that she had indeed grown up abroad, the report said.
The NYT report further said that Saudi officials have denied the idea that Malik took up more fundamentalist views in Saudi Arabia, or that it played a role in the relationship between her and Farook.
"The Saudi narrative has varied to the extent that one official denied she had ever been there," the report said. A day after the attack, a spokesman for the Saudi Foreign Ministry Osama Nugali said told NYT that while Farook had visited the kingdom only once, for nine days in 2014, there was no record of Malik having ever entered the kingdom. "For the lady, we don't have a record of this name," he said.