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Riverside Man Charged with Conspiring to Provide Material Support to Terrorism, as well as Being ‘Straw Purchaser’ of Assault Rifles Later Used in San Bernardino Attack that Killed 14

Posted by Fay Arfa | Dec 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

RIVERSIDE, California– Enrique Marquez Jr., a longtime friend of Syed Rizwan Farook, the male shooter in the San Bernardino terrorist attack, was charged today with conspiring with Farook in 2011 and 2012 to commit crimes of terrorism. Marquez was also charged today with the unlawful purchase of two assault rifles used in the deadly shooting two weeks ago.

A three-count criminal complaint filed this afternoon additionally charges Marquez  with defrauding immigration authorities by entering into a sham marriage with a member of Farook's family.

Marquez, a 24-year-old Riverside resident, was arrested today by special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and he is expected to make his initial court appearance this afternoon in federal court in Riverside.

The criminal complaint filed in United States District Court charges Marquez with conspiring with Farook to provide material support – including himself, a firearm and explosives – for crimes of terrorism; making a false statement in connection with acquisition of firearms; and immigration fraud.

“Mr. Marquez conspired with Mr. Farook to commit vicious attacks, as set forth in today's charges,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Even though these plans were not carried out, Mr. Marquez's criminal conduct deeply affected San Bernardino County, Southern California and the entire United States when the guns purchased by Marquez were used to kill 14 innocent people and wound many others.  While there currently is no evidence that Mr. Marquez participated in the December 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. Today's charges are the result of exceptional work by many prosecutors and law enforcement agencies, and I thank them for their tremendous effort so far in this case.”

The affidavit in support of the complaint provides details into parts of the exhaustive and ongoing investigation into the attack on December 2 that killed 14 people at the Inland Regional Center (IRC). The complaint does not allege that Marquez was involved in the December 2 terrorist attack at the IRC. The complaint does allege that Marquez purchased the AR-15-style rifles used in the shooting, that Marquez purchased explosive material ultimately used to construct a pipe bomb found at the IRC, and that in 2011 and 2012 Marquez and Farook planned terrorist attacks in the Inland Empire that were not carried out.

“Many dedicated law enforcement personnel have worked around the clock and side by side with their Joint Terrorism Task Force partners to gather evidence and build a solid terrorism case against Mr. Marquez over the past two weeks,” said Assistant Director in Charge David Bowdich of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office.  “As we will continue to investigate the facts surrounding the terrible shooting in San Bernardino, we will leave no stone unturned in an effort to deliver answers and justice to the murdered victims and the families they left behind.”

According to the affidavit, in approximately 2005, Marquez moved to Riverside, where he met Farook, who was his next-door neighbor. After their initial meeting, Farook introduced Marquez to Islam, and, in 2007, Marquez converted to Islam. 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 includedInspireMagazine, the official publication of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and videos produced by Al-Shabaab. In August 2011, Farook informed Marquez of his interest in joining AQAP in Yemen.

In late 2011, according to the affidavit, Marquez and Farook started planning to use firearms and explosives to carry out terrorist acts – attacks that Marquez told investigators were designed to maximize the number of casualties that could be inflicted. The affidavit recounts a recent interview with Marquez in which he admitted making plans with Farook to attack the library or cafeteria at Riverside Community College (RCC), where both men had been students. 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.

According to the affidavit, Marquez and Farook took steps to carry out their plans by purchasing firearms, ammunition and other tactical gear, as well as going to local firing ranges. In late 2011 and 2012, Marquez allegedly purchased two firearms and portrayed himself as the actual purchaser of the rifles, when he was in fact buying the weapons for Farook as part of the plan to attack RCC and SR-91. According to the affidavit, Marquez told investigators that he agreed to purchase the weapons because “his appearance was Caucasian, while Farook looked Middle-Eastern.” Investigators have determined that on November 14, 2011, Marquez purchased a Smith and Wesson M&P-15 Sport rifle for Farook. On February 22, 2012, Marquez purchased a DPMS model A-15 rifle, according to records in the affidavit, which states that each rifle cost approximately $750.

Around the same time as he purchased the firearms for Farook, Marquez purchased explosives – specifically smokeless powder – “in furtherance of his and Farook's plans to create bombs and commit mass killings,” according to the affidavit.

In the first half of 2012, Marquez and Farook allegedly continued to prepare for terrorist attacks by going to firing ranges to practice shooting guns and further discussing extremist ideologies. After 2012, Marquez allegedly distanced himself from Farook and ceased plotting with Farook for a variety of reasons, including the arrest of Ralph Deleon and others on material support for terrorism charges in November 2012.

The complaint affidavit alleges the following timeline of events based on the investigation to date: On the morning of December 2, 2015, shortly after 9:00., Farook went to an event at the IRC and placed an item on a table. Following the shooting at the IRC, investigators discovered a remote-controlled improvised explosive device (IED) on a table – a pipe bomb constructed out of three galvanized steel pipes and smokeless powder that was armed and ready to detonate. A subsequent search of Farook's residence led to the discovery of smokeless powder that Marquez allegedly admitted purchasing in 2011 while planning terrorist acts with Farook. In addition, a remote control was found in the sports utility vehicle after Farook and his wife Tafsheen Malik were killed. In his interview with investigators, Marquez allegedly stated that the smokeless powder was purchased to be used in the construction of an “explosive device.” According to the affidavit, Marquez described his familiarity with the use of remote-control devices to detonate IEDs, and said he and Farook reviewed instructions on how to make IEDs that were inInspireMagazine.

According to the affidavit, subsequent investigation determined that on the morning of the shooting, a Facebook account associated with Malik searched for materials related to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Shortly after the shooting, a post on a Facebook page associated with Malik said, “We pledge allegiance to Khalifa bu bkr al bhaghdadi al quraishi” which the affidavit alleges is a reference to the leader of ISIL.

After Farook and Malik were killed in the shooting that ended the pursuit, authorities recovered four firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Among the firearms recovered were the two rifles that Marquez allegedly purchased for Farook several years earlier. Forensic testing has confirmed that the two rifles were used in the attack on the IRC.

Four days after the attack on the IRC, Marquez met with law enforcement officials investigating the incident. Marquez admitted a series of statements that are detailed in the affidavit.

In addition to the charges related to the straw purchase of the rifles and the plans to commit terrorist attacks, Marquez is charged with defrauding U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in relation to a sham marriage with a member of Farook's extended family so that she could obtain legal status in the United States. In return for his participation in the fraud, she paid Marquez $200 per month.

The charges against Marquez were filed by prosecutors in the National Security Division of the United States Attorney's Office for the Central District of California.  Prosecutors from the National Security Division have been working closely with law enforcement in support of the investigation, beginning shortly after the attacks and continuing around the clock since then.

This investigation is being conducted by several members of the Inland Empire Joint Terrorism Task Force, including agents and detectives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the San Bernardino Police Department; the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations; the Riverside County Sheriff's Department; the Ontario Police Department; and the Riverside Police Department.  Several agencies are providing considerable assistance to the investigation, including the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office and detectives with the Chino Police Department, the Redlands Police Department, and the Corona Police Department. Additionally, investigators have collaborated with sister task forces in the region and throughout the country, as well as with the intelligence community, foreign law enforcement partners, and various FBI Legal Attachés located overseas.

A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

The charge of providing material support to terrorists carries a maximum sentence of 15 years. The charge of making a false statement in connection with acquisition of firearms carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. The visa fraud count carries a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

USAO – California, Central Updated December 17, 2015

Central District of California DOJ / 15-154 / December 17, 2015

About the Author

Fay Arfa

Fay Arfa has the distinction of being Certified as a Specialist in two separate areas of law – Criminal Law as well as Appellate Law – by the California State Bar, Board of Specialization. The National Board of Trial Advocacy has also awarded her a board Certification in Criminal Trial Advocacy. ...


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