LOS ANGELES (CN) – A man has agreed to plead guilty to supplying the weapons that were used in the 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, that resulted in the deaths of 14 people and injured 22 others.
In a deal reached with the Justice Department on Tuesday, Enrique Marquez pleaded guilty in federal court to two felony counts of providing material support to terrorists and another felony count of planning an aborted attack on the community college in nearby Riverside, according to court documents.
“This defendant collaborated with and purchased weapons for a man who carried out the devastating Dec. 2, 2015, terrorist attack that took the lives of 14 innocent people, wounded nearly two dozen, and impacted our entire nation,” U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker said. “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.”
Marquez, a friend of shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, was arrested in December 2015 and was the centerpiece of a federal investigation that explored his connection to Farook and Farook’s wife, Tashfeen Malik. Both Farook and Malik were killed in a shootout with police shortly after the attack.
Marquez and Farook were neighbors in Riverside, meeting first in 2005 and attending the same mosque in 2010.
According to court documents, the pair began to plot terrorist attacks in 2011, initially planning to attack students at Riverside Community College and commuters driving home on the 91 Freeway. During this period, Marquez bought two rifles, which were eventually used by Farook and Malik in the attack.
Marquez was arrested about two weeks after the December attack and will face a maximum of 25 years in prison as a result of the guilty plea, which is expected to be formally filed on Thursday.
He also pleaded guilty to lying on federal forms when he bought the guns, telling prosecutors he thought he would be scrutinized less than Farook.
“Straw purchasers are criminals who are the beginning of the chain of violence in our country,” said Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Special Agent in Charge Eric D. Harden. “The crime goes beyond making a false statement on a government form. It puts guns in the hands of criminals who will victimize the community.”
Farook and Malik attacked the Inland Regional Center on Dec. 2, 2015, where the San Bernardino County Department of Mental Health was hosting a Christmas party and training session. Farook was an employee of the health department and had attended the party before leaving early.
Farook was an American-born U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, while Malik was born in Pakistan but became a legal permanent resident of the United States.