Given his talk of sleeper cells, will the mosque attended be investigated? Or will authorities simply take mosque leaders’ word for it that they are peaceful and shocked! shocked! by the San Bernardino jihad massacre?
“San Bernardino Attackers’ Friend Spoke of ‘Sleeper Cells’ Before Rampage,” By Ian Lovett, Jack Healy, Michael S.Schmidt and Julie Turkewit, New York Times, December 11, 2015 (thanks to Pamela Geller):
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….
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….
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.
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.”