Syed Farook
Saudi officials said there was no evidence to suggest Tashfeen Malik had met her husband Syed Farook in the kingdom Getty / Reuters

San Bernardino shooter Tashfeen Malik may have travelled to India for an unknown amount of time in 2013 before she headed to the US with husband Syed Farook in 2014, Saudi authorities have claimed. Indian immigration authorities, who did not find any official travel records in her name, have now requested the Saudi government to share the details of her visit since she might have entered the country under a different name.

Major General Mansour Turki, a spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry, told The New York Times Malik had arrived in the kingdom on 8 June, 2013 from Pakistan and departed for India on 6 October the same year. Details of where she stayed while in India or where she went thereafter are unknown. American officials reported that the couple flew to the US together from Jeddah in July 2014.

Turki said there was "no evidence" to suggest that Malik had met her husband Farook in the kingdom but they were in Saudi Arabia at the same time for about five days in October 2013, the same month when she supposedly travelled to India.

While Islamic State (Isis) activity and sympathisers in India are few, radicalisation and jihadists, especially those originating in Pakistan, are not new to the country. The Indian government is now seeking answers from both the US and Saudi Arabia, which could help them figure out Malik's time in the country.

Pre-US stay still a mystery

Speculation continues on where Malik was prior to her coming to the US as both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have not been able to account for her growing up years. Born into an influential and well-off family in Pakistan, Malik is learnt to have moved to Saudi Arabia with her family only to return to Punjab in Pakistan to study from 2007 to 2012.

Malik was a pharmacy student at Bahauddin Zakariya University under a quota system that reserves spots for the children of expatriate Pakistanis — suggesting she had indeed grown up abroad.

While Malik's relatives and acquaintances in Pakistan said she had grown up in Saudi Arabia and had been influenced by its deeply conservative interpretation of Islam, the Saudi government says she only visited the kingdom twice even though her father may still be there.

Saudi officials denied that she had spent significant time in the kingdom, saying she visited possibly for a few months in total. The Saudi account, however, has varied as just after the California attack one official denied Malik had ever been there.

Members of Farook's family in California also said Malik had grown up in Saudi Arabia. A Wall Street Journal report this week quoted one of Malik's brothers, who lives in Riyadh, as saying that she had lived there.