How do you spend quality time with your best buddies? Back in the day, I’d have a couple of beers, play air hockey, or just shoot the breeze out in the garage while we worked on our cars. Enrique Marquez had other ways of passing the day in garages with San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook — by building pipe bombs. But relax, Marquez apparently told the FBI. It was just a hobby:
Enrique Marquez, a former neighbor of Farook, told investigators he and his friend previously built pipe bombs, law enforcement officials said.
Marquez said he had nothing to do with devices found at the home of Farook and Malik, or the ones that apparently failed to go off at the site of the shooting, the officials said.
Marquez, who has spent several days being voluntarily interviewed by the FBI, portrayed the two men as hobbyists experimenting with building the devices, the officials told CNN.
He also boasted, one official said, that if he had made the bombs they would have gone off.
Er … hobbyists? Yes, I’m sure the FBI will buy that explanation. Lots of hobbyists like to build pipe bombs just to see if they can, especially hobbyists that have already had one aborted attempt at a terrorist attack. Methinks that Marquez should have paid more attention to the Miranda warning at the beginning of his interview, because it sounds like he’s talking himself into a life sentence.
Talking too much seems to be Marquez’ other hobby, however. The New York Times reported yesterday that Marquez liked to wax prophetic while bartending, and repeatedly offered his perspective on Islamist terrorism in the US:
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.”
And then there’s this revelation:
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 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.
Frankly, it sounds as though Marquez might be the patsiest patsy ever, at least from these descriptions of what Marquez is admitting. First he helps Farook build pipe bombs as a “hobbyist,” then agrees to a sham green-card marriage, and then buys the rifles used in a terrorist attack. Can anyone possibly be this stupid, and therefore unwitting of what’s going on? Come on, man. Perhaps he’s hoping that his utter cluelessness (or putting on an act of it) might give him some sort of distance from the events that took place in San Bernardino, but with Farook and Tashfeen Malik both dead, the Department of Justice isn’t going to go easy on their enablers. Right now, that’s what Marquez appears to be.
Meanwhile, CBS News reports that Farook and Malik may have dumped a hard drive in a nearby lake. Divers started digging into the silt yesterday morning, but so far they have come up empty:
Meanwhile, an FBI dive team searched a small, urban lake about 3 miles north of the shooting site. CBS News has learned that the divers are looking for a computer hard drive that may have been dumped in the lake as well any other items Farook and Malik may have thrown in it.
On Friday, a diver was seen handing an item to investigators.
According to a report from ABC Digital, the FBI found a few items of interest, but aren’t saying what they are:
FBI agents recovered a number of items from a lake in San Bernardino where investigators have spent days searching for clues to last week’s mass shooting.
The FBI would not say what items were found or if they related to the terror investigation. Authorities say Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik may have gone to Seccombe Lake Park — 2.5 miles from the site of the shooting — after the Dec. 2 massacre and before the police shootout that left them dead.
We’ll see soon enough whether this tip pans out. Meanwhile, Marquez is still talking enough to keep the DoJ from filing charges just yet, but don’t expect that to last long.