Saturday, December 26, 2015

San Bernardino Attackers’ Friend Spoke of ‘Sleeper Cells’ Before Rampage

Tactics 101 suggests that you apply the protocol as often as you can and if possible coordinate attacks.  These attacks are sponsored and that means that we have so called sleeper cells. except all that means is that they are preparing attacks.  Otherwise they will go stale as life catches up to them.

These folks must be financed and supplied with weapons in such a way as to not arouse suspicion. That takes decent support not least in order to reinforce the necessary mindset.  I really do not believe these folks can be described as shoot and forget.

Our best real defense is to simply stop talking about them  The less said the less recruits to the game.  Media exposure actually honors these creeps..

San Bernardino Attackers’ Friend Spoke of ‘Sleeper Cells’ Before Rampage



Van Thanh Nguyen, center, at the wake of her daughter Tin Nguyen, who died in the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. Credit Nick Ut/Associated Press 

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The regulars did not take it seriously when Enrique Marquez mused about terrorism at Morgan’s Tavern, a dank dive bar where Mr. Marquez hauled ice, cleaned bathrooms and checked IDs at the door. After a few drinks, he would just start talking — about his money woes, trying to lose weight, wanting to join the Navy. News reports about terrorism were just fodder for more bar talk.

“He would say stuff like: ‘There’s so much going on. There’s so many sleeper cells, so many people just waiting. When it happens, it’s going to be big. Watch,’ ” said Nick Rodriguez, a frequent patron who had known Mr. Marquez on and off for the past two years. “We took it as a joke. When you look at the kid and talk to him, no one would take him seriously about that.”

But nine days after a husband and wife slaughtered 14 people in a terrorist attack at a county health department meeting, Mr. Marquez, 24, a childhood friend of the husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, has become a crucial if unlikely figure in the investigation of the attack — which was just the kind he discussed when terrorism news reports flashed onto the tavern’s television.


Mr. Marquez in an undated social media photo. 

While he initially checked himself into a mental health facility after the Dec. 2 massacre in San Bernardino, he has been speaking for hours with federal investigators after waiving his right to remain silent and not incriminate himself, officials say.

Federal investigators believe that, more than any other witness, Mr. Marquez, a convert to Islam, has “held the keys” to understanding Mr. Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, and to shedding light on whom they were in contact with in the years leading to the attack, according to one senior law enforcement official. The couple were killed in a shootout with the police.

On behalf of Mr. Farook, Mr. Marquez bought the two assault rifles used in the attack, the authorities say. He told investigators he had done so, in 2011 and 2012, because Mr. Farook believed he could not pass a background check, officials said. Mr. Marquez has also described in detail how he and Mr. Farook had been planning another terrorist attack together in 2012, the authorities say.

They appear to have been scared off by arrests related to a separate terrorism ring in Riverside County that was prosecuted in 2012, the authorities said, sending two men to federal prison for a scheme to kill American troops in Afghanistan.

Mr. Marquez’s cooperation with investigators could turn out to be very detrimental to his future. His purchase of the assault rifles for Mr. Farook and his planning of an attack in 2012, if proved, would be federal crimes that come with stiff sentences, according to law enforcement officials. While the authorities say they are grateful for his cooperation, they will almost certainly charge him, officials said.

Mr. Marquez has not yet been charged with any crime, and he has told investigators he did not know that the couple were plotting the shootings at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. But Mr. Marquez’s role is particularly concerning because counterterrorism officials believe that he represents a strand of impressionable people at life’s margins with no obvious connections or sympathies with terrorist groups, who can be goaded or enticed toward violence.

As investigators burrow into Mr. Marquez’s life, they now suspect that Mr. Farook and Ms. Malik were in the final planning stages of an assault on a location or building, perhaps a nearby school or college, that held many more people than the Inland Regional Center, according to a congressional official who has received briefings from law enforcement.

Mr. Farook smashed his cellphones and took steps to delete computer files, but investigators have been able to retrieve photographs, including one image of a local high school. On Thursday, divers started searching a lake in San Bernardino where the authorities suspect the couple dumped incriminating electronics, including a computer hard drive.

For days, members of Mr. Marquez’s family have lain low inside their palm-shaded home, where smashed windows and a broken garage door are the lingering marks of raids by federal agents. Mr. Marquez’s mother, Armida Chacon, briefly spoke to reporters Thursday, saying that her son and Mr. Farook had simply been friends and that her son is a good person. It is not known whether he has a lawyer.

Since he was a child growing up in a single-level beige home on an ethnically diverse block in suburban Riverside, Mr. Marquez fastened himself to Mr. Farook and his family. He and Mr. Farook tinkered on cars in their driveways.

He converted to Islam and attended at least one of the same mosques as the Farook family. When Mr. Farook’s older brother, Syed Raheel Farook, married a Russian hairstylist named Tatiana Gigliotti, Mr. Marquez was one of the witnesses. The other was Mr. Farook.

Last year, Mr. Marquez married the Russian sister of Raheel Farook’s wife. He later told a friend and people at Morgan’s Tavern that it was a sham marriage for immigration purposes. Bar patrons said he told them he had been paid $5,000 or $10,000 to marry Ms. Gigliotti’s sister, Mariya Chernykh.


Morgan’s Tavern in Riverside, which employed Enrique Marquez, who the authorities say bought two guns used in an attack. Credit Stuart Palley for The New York Times 

Mr. Marquez had worked as a security guard at a local Walmart since May, but the company has decided to fire him, said Deisha Barnett, a Walmart spokeswoman.

He did mention guns at least once to Mr. Rodriguez, his drinking buddy at Morgan’s Tavern. Again, Mr. Rodriguez said, Mr. Marquez was drunkenly bragging, this time about his work as a security guard. “He was talking about his security card,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “He said something about having guns.”

But again, Mr. Rodriguez said, no one took this claim very seriously, either.

Mr. Marquez occasionally talked about Islam. Sometimes he came directly from mosque to the bar, Mr. Rodriguez said, adding that this did not deter him from drinking, even though Islam forbids alcohol. Mr. Marquez did avoid eating pork, at least as far as Mr. Rodriguez observed.

“He would come and say he just came from praying. He would just come in after and drink, which I never understood.” Mr. Rodriguez said, adding that he did not know what mosque he attended. Mr. Marquez never spoke about any antipathy toward Israel or about the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, Mr. Rodriguez said.

People at at least two local mosques had recollections of Mr. Marquez. Perhaps two years ago, he worked briefly in the bookstore at the Islamic Center of Riverside, congregants there said. “I recall him,” said one congregant, Ahmad Zahran. “He comes in: ‘Hi, how you doing?’ ” But the two never spoke more. “There was nothing alarming about him,” Mr. Zahran said, “or he would have been reported.”]

Guns that were used by Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik. Credit San Bernardino County Sherrif's Department 

At the Islamic Society of Corona-Norco, Azmi Hasan, the facilities manager, recalled that Mr. Marquez first came to the mosque four to five years ago, shortly after converting at another mosque. At first, he came about once a month, usually to Friday Prayer.

“He looked very goofy,” Mr. Hasan said. “He looked like a regular kid.”

Members of the Marquez family have not responded to requests for comment, and lawyers for the Farook family did not respond to phone messages on Friday. Ms. Chernykh could not be reached. Mr. Farook’s mother was interviewed by investigators for at least seven hours, and family members have said through their lawyer that they are cooperating with the investigation.

Mr. Marquez announced the marital arrangement one day when he came into the bar — which the F.B.I. visited earlier this week — and offered to buy everyone drinks, Mr. Rodriguez, the bar patron, said. It was unusual behavior for Mr. Marquez, who was perpetually short on money; sometimes, he could not afford gas for his car, or he asked people to buy him drinks.

He told Mr. Rodriguez that he had posted photographs of himself and his wife at her apartment for the sake of appearances, but that Ms. Chernykh did not live with him and would not so much as kiss him. Viviana Ramirez, 23, a friend, said he did not seem happy with the arrangement.

One night, she said, he rode his bike to her house, began drinking and told her that he was married, but that it was an open relationship. “He needed more attention than what she was giving him,” Ms. Ramirez said.


A screen shot from Mr. Marquez's Facebook page. 

Ms. Ramirez first met Mr. Marquez through an online “confessions” forum for students at Riverside City College looking for help with problems and a common connection. They were each frequent commenters and struck up a friendship, though not an especially close one, after meeting face to face. By that point, he was no longer a student at the college, according to records, but he told her that he was and that he had almost enough credits to graduate.

At no point did he give any indication of an inclination to do harm, Ms. Ramirez said. He discussed wanting to join the Navy, perhaps influenced by Raheel Farook’s military service. He never spoke about religion, and she did not know he was a Muslim, Ms. Ramirez said. He also did not discuss politics. Ms. Ramirez never met any of Mr. Marquez’s friends. Instead, she said, he often discussed music. He liked punk rock.

“At first, he was really shy,” she said. “But once you got to know him, he would laugh, joke around. He would never get mad. He had strong feelings that there was no point to getting angry — it was going to pass.”

Jerry Morgan, the tavern’s owner, said Mr. Marquez had already been a regular at the bar when he hired Mr. Marquez about three years ago. In addition to working at the door and taking out the trash, Mr. Marquez stayed in continual contact with Mr. Morgan, texting him an hourly count of the number of patrons in attendance and the number of drinks they consumed — so Mr. Morgan could keep tabs on sales and receipts.

“He was a goofy kid, a well-behaved kid,” Mr. Morgan said. “Shy. I picked him because of that. He did us right.” Mr. Morgan said that Mr. Marquez never spoke of religion, politics or firearms. Mr. Morgan said he was baffled by to learn that Mr. Marquez had bought two of the weapons used in the attack.

“Enrique sold him the gun?” he said during an interview at his bar. “Who the hell would have known?” The F.B.I. came by at 2 a.m. on Monday and interviewed Mr. Morgan. He told them that he last saw Mr. Marquez about a week before the attack, when he dropped by for a few beers.

Shortly after the shooting, Mr. Marquez’s friends noticed a cryptic and poorly written post on his Facebook page: “I’m. Very sorry guys. It was a pleasure.”

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