Syed Farook
Syed Rizwan Farook (left) and his wife Tashfeen Malik (right) murdered 14 people in San Bernardino, CaliforniaGetty / Reuters

San Bernardino shooter Tashfeen Malik was ignored by Islamic militant groups she attempted to contact in the months before the deadly attack in California, US government sources revealed on 10 December. US authorities believe she was ignored due to fears of getting caught in a US law enforcement sting.

According to Reuters, the number the 29-year-old Pakistan-born Malik attempted to contact or how she attempted to contact remain unclear. However, sources told Reuters that al-Qaeda's Syria affiliate, the al-Nusra Front, is believed to be one of the groups contacted. While the Islamic State (Isis) has claimed that Malik and her 28-year-old husband Syed Farook were among its followers, authorities have found little to no evidence that the couple had any direct contact with IS (Daesh).

Following the 2 December shooting by Farook and Malik at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, the FBI said that Malik had pledged allegiance to IS on Facebook before the attack. The FBI also revealed that the couple may have planned the deadly shooting before they had even met. FBI Director James Comey said that the pair were radicalised before they contacted one another and that Farook may have visited Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to find an accomplice.

Comey, along with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and the National Counterterrorism Center Deputy Director John Mulligan, briefed members of Congress on the ongoing investigation into Farook and Malik in closed, classified sessions, Reuters reported. Republican Representative Bob Goodlatte later told reporters that the couple's neighbours saw suspicious activity in their home but did not alert authorities "for a variety of reasons".

Farouk and Malik were killed in a police shootout just hours after the deadly attack on the former's colleagues during a holiday party. The massacre – the deadliest mass shooting since Sandy Hook – left 14 dead and 21 injured. Federal investigators are still attempting to find a motive for the attacks.