San Bernardino Shooter and Friend Planned 'Rush Hour' Traffic Attack In 2011

Enrique Marquez was arrested on Thursday and charged with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists according to a criminal complaint, which details plans he made with one of the shooters in 2011 to attack a Community College and a freeway.
December 18, 2015, 4:00am
Photo by Nick Ut/AP

Enrique Marquez, Jr. — a 24-year-old Riverside, California resident who was a close friend and neighbor of Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the shooters in the San Bernardino terrorist attack — was arrested on Thursday and charged with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, according to a 37-page criminal complaint, which contains new details about the shooting.

It's the first charge stemming from the attack on December 2 at the Inland Regional Center, a facility about 70 miles east of Los Angeles that provides services to people with developmental disabilities. The shooting, characterized as the worst terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11, claimed the lives of 14 people and wounded 21 others, most of whom Farook worked with.

In an affidavit by FBI special agent Joel T. Anderson, Marquez and Farook made plans in 2011 to attack Riverside Community College (RCC). They also planned a "rush hour" attack on State Route 91 (SR-91), a major freeway in Southern California.

"In the presence of FBI Special Agents, Marquez drew a diagram of the area on the college campus that he and Farook planned to attack and provided the aforementioned details using this diagram," the affidavit said. "Using Google maps, Marquez identified for Special Agents the exact location where he and Farook planned to carry out their attack on SR-91."

Marquez told the FBI that Farook intended to toss pipe bombs into the eastbound lanes of the freeway and then "move among the stopped vehicles, shooting his rifle into them, and killing people." Marquez intended to shoot into the stopped vehicles from a hillside while keeping an eye out for law enforcement or emergency responders, who he also planned to shoot.

Marquez, who was employed as a security guard at a local Wal-Mart and as a doorman at a bar in Riverside, emerged as a key witness in the immediate aftermath of the San Bernardino attack. Marquez called 911 hours after the shooting and admitted to the dispatch operator that his "neighbor did the San Bernardino shooting" and the "fucking asshole used my gun in the shooting," according to a partial transcript of Marquez's 911 call in which he identified Farook by name. He also apparently told the dispatch operator he was suicidal. He later checked himself into the UCLA Harbor Medical Center after drinking nine bottles of beer and was referred to the psychiatric ward where he was placed on an involuntary hold.

Marquez was interviewed by FBI agents from December 6 to 16 and, each day, waived his Miranda rights.

In a footnote in the criminal complaint, FBI agents told Marquez when they first met him that he was not under arrest and free to leave.

"The agents wanted him to know that he had the right not to talk to them and to have a lawyer," the footnote said. "Later that day, Marquez raised with the agents the issue of him talking to a lawyer, but ultimately decided he wanted to keep talking to the agents."

Anderson's affidavit said that Farook introduced Marquez to Islam around 2005 and, later, to the teachings of Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical preacher, who the US government said was the "leader of external operations" of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, based in Yemen. Al-Awlaki, a US citizen, was killed in a CIA drone strike in 2011.

The allegations imply that Farook was radicalized long before he met his wife, Tashfeen Malik, the second shooter in the San Bernardino attack who was also already radicalized when she came to the US last year on a fiancé visa program. FBI Director James Comey said on Thursday that Malik and Farook exchanged private messages about their "joint commitment to jihad and to martyrdom." According to the complaint, at around 8:43 to 8:47 am PST on the day of the shooting, a person identified as Malik searched social media for materials related to the Islamic State. A couple of hours later, a post was made on a Facebook page "associated" with Malik, containing a pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed leader of the Islamic State.

The criminal complaint also said that in 2009 Farook expressed interest in enlisting in the US military. Farook told Marquez he was "disgruntled with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and voiced concern over 'non-contentious objectors'" and "disdain towards Muslims in the US military who killed other Muslims."

Anderson's affidavit said that Marquez purchased firearms, ammunition and tactical gear from sporting goods stores for the planned 2011 terrorist attack. He and Farook also went to gun ranges in Riverside and Los Angeles.

"In late 2011 and 2012 … Marquez identified himself as the actual buyer of the two rifles at the time of the purchase," Anderson's affidavit said. "Marquez, however, bought the rifles for Farook as a part of their plans to attack RCC and SR-91."

Additionally, Marquez bought explosives, specifically, "a bottle of smokeless powder for the purpose of making explosives with Farook for a future attack."

"In or around 2012, after purchasing the firearms and explosive materials, Marquez and Farook continued to prepare to carry out their terrorist plots," the criminal complaint said.

Law enforcement later discovered the bottle of smokeless powder Marquez purchased during a search of Farook and Malik's home. Marquez admitted to FBI agents that it was the same bottle he purchased to make improvised explosive devices (IED). The powder was used in one of the IEDs law enforcement recovered from the Inland Regional Center, according to the criminal complaint.

"While there currently is no evidence that Mr. Marquez participated in the Dec. 2, 2015, 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," US Attorney Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California said in a statement.

The criminal complaint said the relationship between Farook and Marquez, which dates back more than a decade, began to decline in 2013 and they ceased planning any terrorist attacks together.

The owner of the bar where Marquez worked expressed shock upon learning that his employee was planning to carry out a terrorist attack. "That guy couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag," Jerry Morgan, the owner of Morgan's Tavern, told The Riverside Press-Enterprise.

In addition to the terrorism charges, Marquez was also charged with fraud and misuse of visas, permits and other documents. The complaint said that in November 2014, Marquez married the sister of the wife of Farook's brother and was paid $200 a month for agreeing to the arrangement.

"In July 2014, Marquez submitted documents to the Department of Homeland Security, United States Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS) under penalty of perjury, in which he submitted false statements to the effect that he lived with his sham wife," the criminal complaint said.

The complaint contains the additional revelation that on the morning of the shooting Farook first went to the Inland Regional Center and placed something on the table and then left. The criminal complaint said it was a remote-controlled explosive device that was "armed and ready to detonate."

President Barack Obama is planning to meet with the families of the victims of the San Bernardino attack on Friday. In a statement released on Thursday following a briefing from his national security team, Obama said that the federal "investigation will continue to have the full support of the federal government and that we should leave no stone unturned in determining why and how these terrorists carried out that tragedy."

"We are in a new phase of terrorism, including lone actors and small groups of terrorists, like those in San Bernardino," Obama said. "Because they are smaller, often self-initiating, self-motivating, they're harder to detect, and that makes it harder to prevent."

Criminal Complaint for Enrique Marquez