San Bernardino attacker’s friend expected to be charged, officials say

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The federal authorities are focused on a bespectacled former Walmart employee, Enrique Marquez, and his purchase of a pair of rifles used in the attack that claimed 14 lives.
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SAN BERNARDINO — Federal prosecutors are expected to file charges against a friend and former neighbor of San Bernardino attacker Syed Rizwan Farook, law enforcement officials told CNN Thursday.

The charges against Enrique Marquez are expected to partly be based on allegations that Marquez had bought two rifles that Farook and Farook’s wife used in the December 2 mass shooting and terror attack that left 14 people dead in the Southern California city.

Details about when the charges would be filed weren’t immediately available.

Marquez, 24, has told investigators he didn’t know about the plans for the San Bernardino attack, U.S. officials have said.

But he has acknowledged that he bought the two AR-15s for Farook several years ago, and he told investigators about a 2012 attack plot that he says he and Farook conceived but did not carry out, U.S. officials told CNN.

Since the San Bernardino shootings, he has waived his Miranda rights, cooperated with investigators and provided information, according to the officials. Marquez also checked himself into a mental health facility.

Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, opened fire on Farook’s coworkers at a work event December 2. Police shot and killed them hours later.

The massacre was a terror attack, authorities say. Both U.S.-born Farook and Pakistan native Malik expressed commitment to Islamic jihad and martyrdom in direct, private online messages in late 2013, months before Malik moved to the United States to live with Farook, FBI Director James Comey has said.

Malik also pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Badghadi in a Facebook post as the San Bernardino attack was happening, three U.S. officials familiar with the investigation said.

Authorities still are trying to learn more about whom the killers interacted with, how they hatched and carried out the plot and why.

Neighbors, rifles and pipe bombs

Until recent months, Marquez and Farook were neighbors in Riverside, California. Investigators have been delving into Marquez’s relationship with Farook, but authorities have not accused him of plotting or knowing about plans for the San Bernardino attack.

Marquez was a state-licensed security guard until his license expired last year. At one point he converted to Islam and attended the same mosque as other members of the Farook family, though a mosque facility manager told CNN that Marquez stopped attending the mosque about two years ago.

Marquez bought one rifle in 2011 and another later, and gave both to Farook but did not report the transfer of ownership, two law enforcement officials told CNN on condition of anonymity.

Such transactions could be a violation of California law, the officials said.

He also told investigators that he used to build pipe bombs with Farook, portraying himself and his friend as hobbyists experimenting with building the devices, law enforcement officials said.

Marquez said he had nothing to do with the pipe bombs that authorities found at Farook’s home after the December 2 attack, or the ones that apparently failed to go off at the site of the shooting, the officials said.

Marquez also told investigators that he and Farook were planning a terror attack in 2012, and that the two abandoned their plans in part because they were spooked by the arrests of four Riverside-area men charged with attempting to travel abroad to carry out jihad, officials told CNN on condition of anonymity.

Farook knew at least one of those men, officials said.

Investigators have been trying to corroborate Marquez’s information and, as of last week, hadn’t verified details of the alleged 2012 plot. Officials cautioned that Marquez’s claim of a 2012 plot could turn out to be false.

President Barack Obama is expected to travel to San Bernardino on Friday to meet privately with families of the victims of this month’s attack.

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