By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The man accused of furnishing assault rifles to the husband and wife who massacred 14 people in San Bernardino, California, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges of conspiring with one of the killers in a previous plot.
Enrique Marquez, 24, has been indicted on charges he conspired with Syed Rizwan Farook, in 2011 and 2012 to provide material support to terrorists – weapons, explosives and personnel – for attacks that were never carried out.
A hearing in the case was set for Feb. 8 with a trial scheduled for Feb. 23.
The five-count indictment also charges that Marquez, a former neighbor and friend of Farook, entered a sham marriage with a Russian immigrant – whose sister is married to Farook’s older brother – so that she could live in the United States.
Marquez also is accused of lying on a federal firearms form when he bought assault rifles for Farook – one each in 2001 and 2012. Those guns, which the indictment said Marquez falsely claimed he purchased for himself, were used by Farook, 28, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 29, both militant Muslims, in the San Bernardino shooting rampage last month.
Marquez, who has been ordered held without bond, pleaded not guilty to the charges at an arraignment in federal court in Riverside, east of Los Angeles.
Authorities say Farook and Malik opened fire at a holiday gathering of Farook’s co-workers on Dec. 2, killing 14 people and wounding 22. Farook, the U.S.-born son of Pakistani immigrants, and Malik, a Pakistani native he married in Saudi Arabia in 2014, died in a shootout with police four hours after the massacre.
Authorities have said the couple were inspired by Islamic extremism and called their rampage the deadliest such attack on U.S. soil since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Marquez called 911-emergency operators after the San Bernardino slayings to say he wanted to kill himself, admitting he had bought a weapon used by Farook. Marquez then checked himself into a mental health facility.
FBI agents subsequently raided his home and questioned him for several days before he was arrested. Sources have said Marquez was cooperative during his interviews.
The indictment was returned by a grand jury last week, superseding similar charges contained in a criminal complaint filed at the time of his arrest.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Bill Trott)
Photo: Enrique Marquez, accused in the San Bernardino attack, is shown appearing for his arraignment in federal court in this sketch from Riverside, California January 6, 2016. REUTERS/Mona Edwards