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None uncovered what Ms. Malik had said online about her views on violent jihad. She said she supported it. And she said she wanted to be a part of it.

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American law enforcement officials said they recently discovered those old — and ly unreported — communications as they pieced together the lives of Ms. Malik and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, trying to understand how they pulled off the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. Had the authorities found the messages years ago, they might have kept her out of the country.

But their recent discovery exposed a ificant — and perhaps inevitable — shortcoming in how foreigners are screened when they enter the United States, particularly as people everywhere talk more and disclose more about themselves online.

Despite a tremendous electronic intelligence-gathering apparatus that captures phone calls and s from around the world, it remains impossible to conduct an exhaustive investigation for each of the tens of millions of people who are cleared each year to come to this country to work, visit or live. Federal officials said they had discovered private conversations about jihad between Ms. San bernardino married dating and Mr.

Farook on an online messaging platform, as well as s and communications on a dating site, but not on traditional social media sites such as Facebook. But even those sites, where conversations can be public or semipublic, pose a logistical hurdle for immigration screeners, who do not routinely conduct social media searches during the visa process. Lawmakers from both parties have endorsed making it harder for people to enter the United States if they have recently been in Iraq or Syria. Donald J. Malik to move to the United States to marry Americans, putting San bernardino married dating on a pathway to permanent residence and, ultimately, citizenship.

The Obama administration is trying to determine whether those background checks can be expanded without causing major delays in the popular program. In an attempt to ensure they did not miss threats from men and women who entered the country the same way Ms. Malik did, immigration officials are also reviewing all of about 90, K-1 visas issued in the past two years and are considering a moratorium on new ones while they determine whether changes should be made. But the screenings are an example of the trade-offs that security officials make as they try to mitigate the threat of terrorism while keeping borders open for business and travel.

Stewart Verdery Jr. Malik faced three extensive national security and criminal background screenings. First, Homeland Security officials checked her name against American law enforcement and national security databases. Then, her visa application went to the State Department, which checked her fingerprints against other databases. Finally, after coming to the United States and formally marrying Mr. Farook here, she applied for her green card and received another round of criminal and security checks.

Malik also had two in-person interviews, federal officials said, the first by a consular officer in Pakistan, and the second by an immigration officer in the United States when she applied for her green card. All those reviews came back clear, and the F. Malik or Mr. Farook in its databases. The State Department and the Department of Homeland Security have said they followed all policies and procedures. The departments declined to provide any documentation or specifics about the process, saying they cannot discuss the case because of the continuing investigation.

Officials have discovered a potential link between the attackers and Islamic extremism. Meanwhile, a debate is underway at United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that approves visas and green cards, over whether officers conducting interviews should be allowed to routinely use material gathered from social media for interviews where they assess whether foreigners are credible or pose any security risk. With that issue unresolved, the agency has not regularly been using social media references, federal officials said.

After the terrorist attacks in Paris last month, a furor arose over whether the United States should accept Syrian refugees. Governors in more than two dozen states balked at accepting any. But the vetting for refugees is a separate, longer and more rigorous process than the checks for K-1 and most other immigrant visas.

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And there is an extra layer of scrutiny for Syrians, who are referred to a national security and fraud office at the Department of Homeland Security for a final look. In that last step, officers can include a social media search, federal officials said. As part of their investigation into the electronic trail of Ms. Farook, investigators are searching for devices, including a computer hard drive that appeared to be missing from their home, and cellphones they might have abandoned. On Saturday, a team of divers from the F. The divers pulled items from the murky waters of the lake, which they have been scouring since Thursday.

However, officials would not specify what was found or if it was relevant to the investigation. They cautioned that such searches, particularly one in a bustling public park, tend to dredge up debris from many sources, and that investigators still have to determine the value of what was found. Since its inception inthe Department of Homeland Security has been trying to find the right balance between security and ease of movement — a balance that equates to billions of dollars in trade and tourism each year.

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Verdery said. Still, he said, officials have to decide who gets extra scrutiny. Today the government focuses its attention on people in certain fields or from certain countries — foreign scientists, for instance, or young men from the Middle East.

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As a woman, Ms. Malik likely raised less suspicion, Mr. Investigators are particularly interested in Ms. They believe that was when she was radicalized. From toshe lived in a university hostel and then with her mother and sister Fehda at a family home in Multan, Pakistan.

While there, Ms. Malik studied to be a pharmacist, and she took extra classes at the local branch of a women-only institute that teaches a strict literalist interpretation of the Quran, although it does not advocate violent jihad. In a brief telephone interview on Saturday, the sister, Fehda Malik, said Tashfeen Malik was not an extremist, and she rejected the allegations against her sister. She had no contact with any militant organization or person, male or female.

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She said her sister was religious, studied the Quran and prayed five times a day. On social media, Fehda Malik has made provocative comments of her own. Inon the 10th anniversary of the Sept. Social media comments, by themselves, however, are not always definitive evidence. In Pakistan — as in the United States — there is no shortage of crass and inflammatory language. And it is often difficult to distinguish Islamist sentiments and those driven by political hostility toward the United States.

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Everything we know about the San Bernardino terror attack investigation so far