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Friend Of San Bernardino Shooter Charged With Aiding Terror Plot


The FBI made an arrest today in the deadly San Bernardino terrorist attack. That shooting claimed the lives of 14 people earlier this month, and 22 others were injured. A man named Enrique Marquez, a friend of one of the shooters, is being charged after several initial interviews with federal investigators. NPR's national security editor Phil Ewing joins us now with the latest. And Phil, remind us who Enrique Marquez is, and tell us about the charges that he faces.

PHIL EWING, BYLINE: So Marquez is a longtime friend of the man who was killed in the attack, Syed Farook, who convert to Islam - Marquez did - after they got to know each other when they moved next door to each other in Southern California. And he came to the attention of investigators almost immediately after the attacks because he bought the AR-15 rifles that police say were used in the shooting. And he began telling investigators what he knew right from the beginning. In fact, he waived his Miranda rights not to talk with him without a lawyer in writing, according to what we learned today. And now the Justice Department says it has enough evidence to try and charge him. He's been charged conspiring to commit an act of terror, to buying the weapons in the attack unlawfully and also to having lied to the government about what the FBI calls a sham marriage that he arranged with a relative of Farook's.

SHAPIRO: So what new information did we learn today when the Justice Department announced this arrest?

EWING: Well, there's still no apparent evidence that he knew about the attack earlier this month beforehand. And there's also still no apparent evidence that connects him, Farook or Farook's wife, Tashfeen Malik, who was also killed by police, with any foreign terror group. In other words, there's no evidence that they were directed by ISIS or al-Qaida or another such group.

But we did learn today that Marquez and Farook used to listen to lectures and watch videos together involving what the FBI called radical Islamic content, including Inspire magazine, which is produced by al-Qaida's branch in Yemen. And they also used to watch videos produced by the terror group Al-Shabaab, which is based in Somalia. We also learned that in 2011, Farook told Marquez he wanted to join that Yemeni branch of al-Qaida, AQAP, and that's when the two men began to plan their own terror attack in Southern California.

SHAPIRO: Tell us more about that 2011 terror attack that they were planning. What did they have in mind?

EWING: Well, from what the FBI says, they wanted to launch something that looked a lot like the attack from earlier this month. Used these weapons - they had these two AR-15 rifles along with pistols and pipe bombs to attack a local community college and also a local interstate. They wanted to throw these bombs in the road and stop traffic and also shoot as many people as they could, including police officers and other first responders. That actually didn't happen. They decided not to launch the attack, and nothing happened until the tragic events of earlier this month.

SHAPIRO: Well, after this high-profile arrest, what comes next?

EWING: Well, Marquez is supposed to be in federal court today in Riverside, Calif., and then he's going to begin to face these charges. It's also possible that investigators and other officials will have another news conference at some point in the next couple days at which they can talk more about these charges and the plans - their plans in terms of continuing with this prosecution.

SHAPIRO: Thanks, Phil.

EWING: Thank you.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's national security editor Phil Ewing on a high-profile arrest today in connection with the San Bernardino shootings earlier this month. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Phil Ewing