Enrique Marquez didn't participate in the terror that took 14 lives in San Bernardino Dec. 2, but he did plot years before with mass shooter and friend Syed Farook to attack Riverside Community College students and 91 freeway commuters, federal authorities alleged today.
Twenty-four-year-old Marquez was arrested and charged in a criminal complaint that alleges he provided material support (himself, firearms, explosive material) for crimes of terrorism, made a false statement in buying guns, and committed immigration fraud by marrying a Russian woman for cash.
Federal prosecutors say he plotted with his good friend Farook in 2011 and 2012 to attack students at the Riverside Community College cafeteria and to bomb the 91 freeway at rush hour and then gun down fleeing motorists.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles gave this chilling account as part of its allegations:
The plan allegedly was to throw pipe bombs into the cafeteria area from an elevated position on the second floor, and then to shoot people as they fled.
Marquez and Farook also planned to attack eastbound lanes of State Route 91 (SR-91) during afternoon rush hour, the affidavit states. Marquez told investigators that they chose a particular section of the freeway because there were no exits, which would increase the number of targets in the eastbound lanes. The plan was for Farook to throw pipe bombs on to the freeway, which they believed would disable vehicles and stop traffic. Farook allegedly planned to then move among stopped vehicles, shooting into them, while Marquez shot into vehicles from a position on a nearby hillside. Marquez allegedly said that he would watch for law enforcement and emergency vehicles, and his priority was to shoot law enforcement before shooting life-saving personnel.
The two had attended the school, officials said.
As part of that plot, feds alleged, Marquez bought two assault-type weapons on November 14, 2011 — a Smith and Wesson M&P-15 Sport rifle and a DPMS model A-15 rifle.
Prosecutors say Marquez bought them for Farook for about $750 each. They believe Farook was afraid his Middle Eastern looks would trigger alarms if he tried to purchase the weapons.
Marquez also bought "smokeless powder" in order to construct bombs and inflict mass casualties, authorities alleged.
The defendant, a onetime neighbor of Farook's in Riverside, grew close to the shooter, attended a local mosque with him, and became radicalized, prosecutors said in a statement:
Farook later introduced Marquez to radical Islamic ideology, which included expressing disdain towards Muslims in the U.S. military who killed other Muslims, as well as discussing the extremist views of the now-deceased imam and Islamic lecturer Anwar al-Aulaqi. 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. Those materials included Inspire Magazine, the official publication of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) ...
However, "Marquez distanced himself from Farook" after an unrelated terror plot in the Inland Empire led to arrests in late 2012, feds said.
Farook carried on with his wife, Tafsheen Malik, and executed plans to inflict terror in the community, authorities said. The pair carried out mass murder with those very assault rifles on Dec. 2, they said.
"Forensic testing has confirmed that the two rifles were used in the attack on the IRC [Inland Regional Center]," the U.S. Attorney's Office stated.
On the morning of the shooting a Facebook account associated with Malik pleged allegiance to the terror group known as the Islamic State, feds said.
The powder purchased by Marquez found its way into a remote-controlled pipe bomb that Farook placed on the table of the Inland Regional Center shortly after arriving at 9 a.m. that morning for a meeting of fellow San Bernardino County health department employees, prosecutors said.
Feds said Farook learned how to make the bomb by reading Inspire magazine. The bomb at the IRC was "armed and ready to detonate," but it never went off, the U.S. Attorney's Office stated.
The couple died in a shootout with authorities that day.
Marquez made admissions to investigators probing the case, according to prosecutors.
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Prosecutors also alleged that Marquez married a Russian woman as part of a "sham marriage" so that "she could obtain legal status in the United States," according to the statement. His payoff was $200 a month, feds alleged..
Marquez was expected to be arraigned this afternoon.
If successfully convicted the charges carry maximum sentences that could amount to 35 years behind bars.
President Obama was scheduled to visit privately with families of the victims in San Bernardino tomorrow night.