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San Bernardino Shooter Tashfeen Malik Didn't Stand Out Back in Pakistan

The woman who, with her husband, gunned down 14 people at his office, was described by a family member on Sunday as seemingly "innocent."
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MULTAN/ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Family members and former classmates back in Pakistan told NBC News Sunday that Tashfeen Malik — the woman who with her husband gunned down 14 people at a California office party — was "innocent" and a "girl next door" when she was here.

Others who crossed paths with her said she made little impact or impression at all.

Little is known about Malik, the mother of a 6-month-old baby girl who was killed in a shootout with police Wednesday after the attack on employees celebrating the holiday season at San Bernardino's Inland Regional Center. Largely, she blended in, it seems.

"She was like the girl next door, you know? The sweet innocent kind. The kind that's always smiling, that's nice to you," said her sister-in-law, Saira Khan. "You would never ever guess that that girl has ties to ISIS."

The assault Malik carried out with her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, is being investigated as a terrorist attack, according to the FBI, and before the shooting, Malik pledged allegiance to the leader of ISIS on Facebook, law enforcement sources told NBC News.

The Associated Press reported Sunday that some Malik's relatives had noticed her become more devout in her Islamic beliefs in recent years, but a woman who attended college in Pakistan with Malik for five years said she was nothing short of ordinary.

"She was very normal — more than normal — she was very jolly. She used to laugh without any reason," said Huma Butt, who studied pharmaceuticals alongside Malik at Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan.

She said that Malik was an above-average student and dressed conservatively, yet still didn't stand out by any means.

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"She was very brilliant, asking questions to the teachers," Butt said.

She said she wasn't even completely convinced that Malik could have carried out the heinous act, but noted that she might have become radicalized in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi government on Sunday said in a statement that Malik "visited her father, who works in the kingdom, twice with a Pakistani passport: First visit was on (sic) July 2008 coming from Pakistan and stayed for nine weeks before leaving to Pakistan."

The second time was with her husband for a pilgrimage to Meccas in 2013.

While Butt said Malik was in the top of her class and acted as a sort of counselor to women at the school, a college spokesman said was just like anyone else.

"I can tell you one thing very clearly, that there is nothing special about that student, that which has been remembered of the teachers," said Babar Khaqan, the deputy director of public relations at Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan.

Khaqan also rejected the idea that Malik could have been radicalized at the school.

"A very small part of the life, specifically education life cannot simply determine somebody’s mindset," Khaqan said. "We should not even be associating this person with Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan."

Malik was from the province of Punjab but had lived with her family in Saudi Arabia before returning to Pakistan to attend school.

"She was very normal — more than normal — she was very jolly."

Pakistani media reported that Malik had ties to a The Red Mosque in Islamabad, which has alleged ties to Muslim extremists — a charge that mosque officials vehemently deny.

Report: Tashfeen Malik, Mom in California Rampage, Became Very Devout: Report

"This is a conspiracy by the media to drag our name into it," spokesman Abdul Qadir told NBC News. "The Red Mosque has never been associated with this woman," he said.

Investigators in Pakistan also say they have no record of Malik or any signs that she was radicalized in the country.

"There is no link between her and extremists in Pakistan," according to a statement from Pakistan's Interior Ministry.