In talks with a close childhood friend of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, investigators have learned that the terrorist may have called of an attack in 2012, and could’ve been planning another one at a high school.
According to Fox News, former friend and relative by marriage Enrique Marquez, 24, told authorities that Farook aborted an attack in 2012. So far, investigators haven’t been able to determine where the attack was planned or precisely when, but a target had been chosen, CNN added.
However, two U.S. officials had revealed anonymously Tuesday that Syed Farook and another person had been planning something three years ago. The duo “got spooked” and aborted the plan, after several people were arrested in Southern California under suspicion of terrorist activity.
This aborted plan was corroborated during interviews between law enforcement and Marquez. He is married to Mariya Chernykh, sister to Farook’s brother, and is cooperating with investigators. He’s not a suspect in the attack.
Enrique did, however, legally purchase the two AR-15 assault rifles used to kill 14 people and wound 21 others at the Inland Regional Center last week. He purchased the rifles in 2011 or 2012 and either gave or sold them to Syed Farook. After the FBI raided his home Saturday morning, he’s been rejected as a person of interest and has since provided critical information to federal agents about Farook’s friends and acquaintances and those of his wife, Tashfeen Malik, the Daily Beast added.
An unnamed friend said Enrique wasn’t involved in the shooting and after learning that Syed Farook — a man he grew up with, shared interests with, even studied Islam with — was involved in last Wednesday’s shooting, he checked himself into a mental health facility.
“I know that he didn’t know what was being planned. He wasn’t in the circle,” the friend said. As to his brief institutionalization, he said “It’s not like he has been trying to escape anything. I don’t know how anyone in that situation would be able to handle it.”
The investigation has also revealed that Syed Farook became radicalized before marrying Malik, and inside the U.S. Marquez talked about his and Farook’s joint interest in Islam, saying that Syed was more dedicated and eventually, become more “extreme with religion,” the anonymous friend noted.
Following an unsettling experience with Farook, Enrique cut ties with him about three years ago.
And now, a local newspaper has reported information that could hint at the site of Farook and Malik’s follow-up attack. Investigators have long believed that the duo was planning another shooting. Instead, they were killed in a gun battle with police shortly after the events at the Inland Regional Center.
Authorities have been unable to pinpoint the other target, but pictures on Syed Farook’s cell phone possibly reveal where — a high school, the San Bernardino Sun reported.
As a health inspector for the San Bernardino County Department of Health, Syed Farook had access to the schools within the Rialto Unified School District and its 30 food prep facilities, twice per year. Sources close to the investigation found multiple photos of one of those facilities — a high school in Rialto — on his cell phone.
A number of schools that Syed Farook would’ve inspected have been swept with bomb-sniffing dogs. All were found to be safe and FBI sources have no evidence that Farook and Malik had targeted schools.
But according to one counterterrorism expert, former Green Beret Lt. Col. Scott Mann, those photos on the terrorist’s phone could mean only one thing– and it fits ISIS methodology.
“That tells me that he is doing close reconnaissance of a target area. They want to look at ingress routes, the egress routes and the centers of large population like a cafeteria. It looks like a duck, quacks like a duck. ISIS, more so than al-Qaida, operates off a prophecy that they are going to usher in the apocalypse. That’s what they want. They’re doing anything and everything they can to draw us in emotionally into that battle… That’s why they’re going for the schools, that’s what they’re doing with the in-your-face violence.”
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]