California shooter Farook, friend planned attack in 2012: FBI

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Dec 11, 2015 01:26 IST
Tashfeen Malik (L) and Syed Farook (R), as they passed through O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. The couple died in a gun battle with authorities several hours after their assault on a gathering of Farook's colleagues in San Bernardino, California. (AP Photo/ Handout )

A longtime neighbour and friend of California shooter Syed Rizwan Farook has told investigators that the two had planned a terrorist attack in 2012 but abandoned it then.

Enrique Marquez, the friend who remains a person of interest but has not been named a suspect yet, has said they gave up the plot after the arrest of four persons on terrorism charges.

Four persons were arrested then from Riverside, California, where Farook and Marquez also lived, for planning terrorist attacks on Americans in Afghanistan.

Farook and Marquez were probably not linked to that plot because neither was arrested and continued under the radar of authorities till the December 2 San Bernardino killings.

The two military style assault rifles Farook, an American of Pakistani descent, and his Pakistani wife Tashfeen Malik used in the shootings were legally bought by Marquez in 2011 and 2012.

Investigators have not said yet if Marquez, 24, who works as a security guard at a Walmart outlet, simply gave the weapons to Farook or sold them to him.

The two neighbours shared a love of automobiles and were frequently seen working together on vehicles. Marquez later converted to Islam, and attended the local mosque.

But not much else has been reported about him, other than that he is married to a Russian woman named Mariya Chernykh, whose sister is married to Farook’s elder brother. For a while after the attacks, investigators couldn’t find Marquez, who had checked himself into a mental health facility. He has since been out and speaking to investigators.

That he and Farook plotted an attack in 2012, which pre-dates the birth of Islamic State, is being cited by investigators to prove Farook’s radicalisation from before he met Malik.

Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey told US lawmakers at a hearing on Wednesday that Farook and Malik had discussed jihad and martyrdom in their online communications in 2013. They had been both radicalised by then.

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