The Slatest

San Bernardino Attacker May Have Plotted Attack in 2012, Before ISIS’s Rise to Prominence

The FBI is investigating the possibility that the man responsible for last week’s San Bernardino massacre, Syed Rizwan Farook, may have planned an attack as far back as 2012, but got spooked, according to the Washington Post, when the FBI broke up an unrelated plot to kill Americans in Afghanistan. Farook’s neighbor, Enrique Marquez, may have been in on the 2012 operation, but federal authorities are still in the process of confirming the reliability of the information Marquez has provided investigators. Marquez, who works as a clerk at Walmart, said he was unaware last week’s attack was in the works despite buying two of the guns used during the shooting that he either gave or sold to Farook and his wife and co-conspirator, Tashfeen Malik. Marquez has also checked himself into a mental hospital, making deciphering his statements that much more difficult.

If the 2012 plot turns out to be credible, it would indicate that Farook, despite claims of responsibility and inspiration by ISIS, was bent on violence well before ISIS became a major player on a global scale. During an appearance on Capitol Hill Wednesday, FBI Director James B. Comey said there was evidence that Farook and his wife-to-be had discussed “jihad and martyrdom before they became engaged and married and were living in the U.S.” Comey also said the investigation so far indicates that each had been radicalized before their relationship began. “Mr. Comey said the F.B.I. still believes the couple were inspired by foreign extremist groups,” according to the New York Times. “But the bureau has not found evidence that the couple were ordered to attack by the Islamic State or any other group.”