Pakistan religious school distances itself from California shooter

10.12.2015

A religious school in Pakistan distanced itself from former student Tashfeen Malik, who together with her husband allegedly killed 14 people in southern California last week before they were shot dead by police. "It seems that she was unable to understand the beautiful message of the Koran," Al-Huda International Welfare Foundation said online. "We cannot be held responsible for personal acts of any of our students," said the centre, which was founded in 1994 by prominent female Islamic scholar Farhat Hashmi.

It confirmed earlier reports that said Malik had studied at the school's Multan branch in central Pakistan in 2013-14, before leaving without completing the diploma course. The foundation said it promotes the peaceful message of Islam and denounces extremism, violence and acts of terrorism. Any devout, informed Muslim "will never involve himself/herself in such acts, because they will invoke the anger of Allah Almighty and lead to harm and corruption on earth," it said.

Malik, 29, was born in Pakistan's Layyah district and grew up in Saudi Arabia after the family moved there. She returned to Pakistan in 2006 and studied pharmaceutical science at Bahauddin Zakariya University in Multan between 2007 and 2013, according to intelligence officials. During that period she also attended the Al-Huda centre, which has several branches in Pakistan as well as in the United States, the Gulf, India and Britain, catering to educated and middle-class women.

At the centre, Malik met Maulana Abdul Aziz, the radical Islamic cleric at Islamabad's Red Mosque that was stormed by the Pakistani military in 2007 for having links with al-Qaida. More than 100 people, mostly female students, were killed in the raid on the mosque and its affiliated Islamic seminary for women. Malik and her husband Syed Rizwan Farook allegedly killed 14 people and injured 21 on Wednesday in a shooting rampage apparently aimed at his county health department colleagues in San Bernardino, east of Los Angeles, on Wednesday.

Malik pledged allegiance to Islamic State in a Facebook post shortly before or during the attack, according to US officials. US President Barack Obama on Sunday declared the attack a clear act of terrorism and said the couple "had gone down the brutal path of radicalisation." An intelligence official said Monday that Malik's attendance at the centre "does not mean she was radicalised there."    (dpa)

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