Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik were buried on December 15, a funeral sparsely attended and guarded by FBI agents.
The opened fire at and killed killed 14 people and injured 21 others at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino on December 2. Farook’s colleagues with the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health were renting space there for a celebration. Tafsheen and Farook died in a gun battle with the police later that day.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the attorneys, David Chesley and Mohammad Abuershaid, confirmed the burial, but gave no further details. San Bernardino Supervising Deputy Coroner Randy Emon informed the Associated Press that the bodies had been released, but refused or give any other information saying that he was not authorized to do so, including the fact about who claimed them.
The burials were made according to Islamic traditions, the bodies cleansed and wrapped in a white cloth, in a cemetery miles away from San Bernardino. A closer facility refused the burial, fearing defilement. The identification of the cemetery was also kept under wraps.
Most Muslims in the community and members of the mosque Farook and Tashfeen attended refused to participate in the burial or perform the funeral prayer, called Salat Al-Janazah, according to the source who did not attend the funeral.
“I don’t forgive him myself. Still I pray mercy for him, and we Muslims know God is merciful. But he’s also just.”
An attendee accompanied by one other who was familiar with the situation admitted that it took around a week to find a graveyard for the burial, under the condition of anonymity for the fear of retort.
Reuters reported that a woman at the Islamic Cemetery & Masjid in Adelanto, California — less than an hour from San Bernardino — confirmed that the cemetery had refused to bury the bodies, in part out of a fear of backlash, but also for “other reasons.” She declined to give her name.
This is a shrouded reality and outcome of such events. The victims are honored, receive tearful adieus and candlelight ceremonies, and rightly so. Their families and survivors receive a lot of support. Everybody grieves with them. Though it cannot make up for their losses, it sure provides them with some comfort.
But for the families of the perpetrators, burials are a hush-hush affair. Something which needs to be done and get over with, shadowed with shame and fear. Tombstones remain unmarked for the fear of being defiled.
The family of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the two men accused of carrying out the Boston Marathon bombing attack in 2013, faced similar difficulty finding a place to bury his body after the attack. Graveyards in Massachusetts refused to accept the body, and the family ultimately buried him in an unmarked grave in Virginia.
The Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino reported on Wednesday that repairs to two buildings should be completed by January 4. But the building that houses a conference center where the shooting took place has substantial damage, and will remain closed indefinitely. The other buildings received some damage as police searched them. They were locked down after the December 2 shooting for repairs and a subsequent investigation.
Farook and Malik left behind a 6-month-old daughter, who has been in state custody since the December 2 massacre. Farook’s sister and brother-in-law, Saira and Farhan Khan, have said they hope to adopt their niece.