- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 17, 2015

Authorities on Thursday brought the first criminal charges related to the San Bernardino terrorist attacks, charging a friend of the couple who carried out the mass shooting with the unlawful purchase of two assault rifles used in the massacre.

Enrique Marquez, who purchased two of the guns used by Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik in the Dec. 2 mass shooting, was also accused of conspiring years earlier with Farook to carry out a separate terror attack that never materialized.

Prosecutors said Thursday that there was no evidence Mr. Marquez participated in the Dec. 2 attack, but that in 2011 and 2012 he and Farook had devised two elaborate terror plots that involved carrying out a mass shooting at a community college and throwing pipe bombs onto a major freeway.

“While there currently is no evidence that Mr. Marquez participated in the Dec. 2 attack or had advance knowledge of it, his prior purchase of the firearms and ongoing failure to warn authorities about Farook’s intent to commit mass murder had fatal consequences,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker in a statement.

One plot involved halting traffic on California State Route 91 by throwing pipe bombs into the freeway and then using the AR-15 rifles that Mr. Marquez purchased to shoot people inside the stopped vehicles, according to a 37-page affidavit filed in federal court. Another plot involved shooting up the cafeteria of Riverside Community College, where both men had been students.

The guns used in the Dec. 2 attack were purchased during that time by Mr. Marquez and, according to prosecutors, he agreed to purchase the firearms because he believed his Caucasian appearance would draw less attention than Farook, a U.S. citizen of Pakistani heritage.

Additionally, the pair practiced shooting at local ranges and studied methods to build pipe bombs, with Mr. Marquez also purchasing smokeless powder they could use for the devices. The two did not go forward with their planned attack, in part because they got spooked after the arrest of another terror suspect, and authorities said Mr. Marquez began to distance himself from Farook in 2012.

Mr. Marquez faces three criminal counts, and faces up to 15 years in prison on the most serious charge — conspiring to provide material help to terrorists.

Farook and Malik stormed a holiday party thrown at the Inland Regional Center by the government agency Farook worked for and opened fire inside, killing 14 people and injuring 22. The radicalized Muslim couple fled the area but had hoped for further destruction at the scene, leaving behind pipe bombs that failed to detonate. The bombs were similar in nature to those that Farook and Mr. Marquez had planned to build, according to court documents.

Both 28-year-old Farook and 29-year-old Malik were killed during a shootout with police hours after the massacre.

While the FBI has said previously that Farook and Malik, who married in 2014, had both been radicalized for several years, the charges filed Thursday offered the first details regarding how far back Farook had embraced violent ideology.

The friendship between Mr. Marquez and Farook stretches back to 2005, when Mr. Marquez’s family moved into a Riverside, California, home next door to Farook’s family. By 2007 Mr. Marquez had converted to Islam, and prosecutors said Farook introduced him to Islamist ideology.

“Over the next few years, Farook provided Marquez with radical Islamic materials, and by 2011, Marquez spent most of his time at Farook’s residence listening to lectures and watching videos involving radical Islamic content,” prosecutors said in a press release announcing the charges.

Mr. Marquez told authorities that in 2011, around the time they began plotting their terror attacks, that they reviewed instructions on how to make IEDs in Inspire magazine, which is published by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Farook also confided in Mr. Marquez in August 2011 that he wanted to join AQAP in Yemen.

Mr. Marquez, 24, is also accused of defrauding immigration authorities by entering into a sham marriage with a Russian woman who was a member of Farook’s extended family. Beginning in November 2014 he was paid $200 a month to maintain the farce.

Farook’s decision to go forward with the Dec. 2 attacks appeared to have caught Mr. Marquez off guard. According to a transcript of a 911 call he placed the day after the attacks, he told an emergency call taker that he had given the guns to Farook for safekeeping.

“The f**king a**hole used my gun in the shooting,” Mr. Marquez told the 911 operator.

“To me, he was reliable enough for … storage, like to store my gun,” he later said on the phone call.

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