Obama will travel to San Bernardino to mourn victims of massacre

President Obama speaks on Islamic State in the Pentagon briefing room on Dec. 14.

President Obama speaks on Islamic State in the Pentagon briefing room on Dec. 14.

(Olivier Douliery / Getty Images)

President Obama will travel to San Bernardino on Friday to join in mourning the 14 victims of the Dec. 2 mass shooting that he has called an act of terrorism, the White House said Wednesday.

Obama’s visit to Southern California was added to his previously scheduled trip to Hawaii, where he and the first family will celebrate Christmas, as has been their tradition during his presidency.

During his San Bernardino stop, Obama will visit privately with families of victims, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. Further details of the president’s visit were not disclosed. White House officials have previously said that any presidential visit -- like others to communities affected by mass shootings -- would take local memorial plans into account.


Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik opened fire two weeks ago at a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, killing 14 and wounding 22 in the deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S. since 9/11. Farook and Malik, who were married, were killed in a gun battle with police hours later.

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The subsequent investigation has revealed that Farook, a U.S. citizen, and Malik, who entered the U.S. on a so-called fiancee visa, had been plotting an attack for months. Both pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

The massacre, just two weeks after nearly 200 were killed in a series of coordinated attacks in Paris that were also said to be inspired by Islamic State, has driven Americans’ concern over terrorism to levels unseen since after the 9/11 attacks.

The White House has worked since to communicate its strategy for defeating Islamic State, chiefly through Obama’s Oval Office address days after the San Bernardino shooting. He emphasized that a U.S.-led international coalition is focused on reversing the extremist group’s territorial footprint in Iraq and Syria, while also working to prevent it from launching or inspiring similar attacks at home.

The San Bernardino tragedy also has renewed a heated political debate concerning the nation’s gun laws while the president is considering a range of potential new executive actions. The White House has called on Congress to enact what it calls a “no-fly, no-buy” law that would prohibit weapons sales to anyone on the federal government’s no-fly list.


In his address to the nation, Obama noted the diversity of backgrounds of the San Bernardino victims and said, “Each of them served their fellow citizens and all of them were part of our American family.”

Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands), who represents the area, said he’s pleased Obama will meet with the families.

“I’ve conveyed to the White House the importance of the president’s presence in our region as we rebuild, and I join with our community in welcoming him to San Bernardino,” Aguilar said in a statement.

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