San Bernardino Terrorist Tashfeen Malik’s Body To Be Cremated At The U.S. Taxpayer’s Expense?

Rahul Srinivas

Tashfeen Malik, the 29-year-old female terrorist who was killed on December 2, following the San Bernardino attack might be cremated at the U.S. taxpayer's expense. According to a Fox News report, Malik's bullet-riddled body remains unclaimed at the San Bernardino County morgue, along with the body of her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook. However, unlike Farook's body, which would be released to his family, Tashfeen's body does not have any claimant. Members of the local Islamic community have not responded to calls from local political leaders to claim Tashfeen's body and perform a burial in adherence with Islamic traditions. It seems no one is interested in dealing with the stigma associated with claiming the body of a terrorist.

"They are all waiting for someone else to be the one to take care of this part of it," he added.

In their defense, the local Muslim leaders say that Tashfeen was never seen at the local mosques and that she was not known to people within the community before the shootings. According to Attorney David Wohl, a family attorney, if Tashfeen's body remains unclaimed, she would be cremated at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer. He added that the body would be disposed off in whatever ways the state thinks is correct.

"The state is not going to care about religious tradition. She was a terrorist," he further added.

Tashfeen reportedly has little or no links to her family back in Pakistan -- although she is believed to have visited the country a few years ago to complete a course. It remains unclear if any of her family members have expressed interest in claiming her body. Tashfeen also has relatives living in Saudi Arabia. However, the Saudi embassy in Washington has already said they will not take the responsibility of Tashfeen's funeral.

Cremation of a body at the taxpayers expense is a fate forbidden in Islam. In the past, several Muslim leaders had complained about Osama Bin Laden being unceremoniously dumped at sea following his death in the 2011 Navy SEAL shootout. This was in spite of the fact that the U.S. government wrapped his body in a white shroud and gave him Islamic prayers.

In the eventuality of no one claiming Tashfeen's body, the responsibility of cremating her could fall on the United States Attorney's Office and the San Bernardino's Coroner's office. According to local attorney Troy Slaten, it is evident why everyone wants to distance themselves from Tashfeen. Claiming the body of a terrorist and cremating it would be a public relations disaster for any organization or individual that performs it. He also predicted that in most likelihood, Tashfeen's cremation would be done at the U.S. taxpayer's expense.

"If nobody claims a body, it is turned over to the public administrator, who will handle it civilly and not religiously. Cremation is usually standard because it's the cheapest option," he added.

When contacted about the fate of Tasfeen's body, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim group which has represented Farook's family since the attack, responded with a detailed description of an Islamic burial and did not say anything about their opinion on the fate of Tashfeen's body.

However, according to Daniel Akbari, a Sharia Law expert for the Supreme Court of Iran, Tashfeen would eventually get an Islamic burial.

"Since it is obligatory to bury a Muslim's dead body, many Islamic institutions will probably be willing to do the burial. Some might be cautious and wait to see if others do the job. But what is certain is that Farook and his wife will be buried in an Islamic way."

Do you think Tashfeen Malik should be cremated at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer?

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]