The man believed to have bought rifles for San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to provide materials for terrorists, the Department of Justice announced on Tuesday.
Enrique Marquez Jr., a longtime friend of Farook’s, will plead guilty to providing material support and resources to terrorists, including weapons, explosives and personnel. As part of the plea agreement, he admitted that he conspired with Farook to carry out two attacks that never happened. Marquez also will plead guilty to making false statements to investigators.
Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, opened fire at a holiday party for health inspectors at the Inland Regional Center on Dec. 2, 2015. Fourteen people were killed in the attack and 24 people were wounded. Farook and Malik were killed in a shootout with police shortly afterward. The pair declared their allegiance on Facebook to the Islamic State (ISIS) shortly before the attack.
Prosecutors said Marquez acknowledged being a “straw buyer” when he purchased two assault rifles from a sporting goods store that were used in the attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. Prosecutors have said Marquez agreed to buy the weapons because the attackers feared Farook’s Middle Eastern appearance might arouse suspicion.
Marquez also admitted to plotting with Farook in 2011 and 2012 to massacre college students and gun down motorists on a gridlocked California freeway, though those attacks never occurred.
Federal officials said the duo had envisioned halting traffic on state Route 91 with explosives and then firing at trapped motorists, or tossing pipe bombs into a crowded cafeteria at Riverside City College.
Marquez said he backed out of the plot after four men in the area about 60 miles inland from Los Angeles were arrested on terrorism charges in late 2012, the FBI has said in court documents.
“While his earlier plans to attack a school and a freeway were not executed, the planning clearly laid the foundation for the 2015 attack on the Inland Regional Center,” U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker said Tuesday.
In January, three people -- Farook’s brother Syed Raheel Farook, his wife, Tatiana Farook, and her sister, Mariya Chernykh -- pleaded guilty to immigration fraud. They admitted to being part of a conspiracy to arrange a sham marriage between Marquez and Chernykh, the Department of Justice said.
Marquez is scheduled to appear before a federal judge on Thursday. .