Terrorist’s mother sentenced for shredding planning document in California terror attack
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The mother of one of the shooters who carried out a 2015 terror attack in San Bernardino, California, was sentenced today to six months of home confinement and three years of probation for shredding a document used to plan the massacre that killed 14 people and wounded 22.
A federal judge also fined Rafia Sultana Shareef $5500 (NZD$7600), the US attorney’s office said. Shareef, the 67-year-old mother of shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, had pleaded guilty to a single count of alteration, destruction and mutilation of records.
On December 2 (December 3 NZT), 2015, Farook, 28, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 29, opened fire during a holiday party and training session for Farook’s co-workers with the San Bernardino County health department. Farook and Malik were later killed in a gunbattle with officers.
Prosecutors say Shareef learned that day that her son had been identified as one of the attackers and found a document in his room that she believed was a map used to plot the attack. She ran it through a shredder. Prosecutors have not accused Shareef, who lived with her son and his wife, of knowing about their plan ahead of time.
During the sentencing hearing, Shareef apologised to victims and survivors, The Press-Enterprise reported.
“I pray for each of your family members,” she said.
Reading from a statement, she told US District Judge Jesus G. Bernal: “I am sorry for what I did.”
The FBI learned of what prosecutors called “the attack plan” a few years after the shooting and authorities put the thin paper strips back together.
The document included a diagram of the conference room at the Inland Regional Center where the attack took place and a suggested path through the tables for the shooters. It also had a list of things to do in the week before the shooting, including destroying electronics that authorities could use to track the attackers and buying parts for improvised explosive devices.
Shareef’s attorney, Charles D. Swift, acknowledged that victims and families were likely disappointed with the sentence.
“They are looking for a vessel for that grief,” he said. “But Mrs. Shareef isn’t a vessel for that grief.”
Rosa Ortiz, whose nephew Kevin Ortiz was shot and survived, said she had hoped Shareef would be sent to prison. Ortiz confronted Shareef near an elevator after the hearing.
“I hope you live with your guilt the rest of your life,” Ortiz told her.