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San Bernardino Suspects Spoke of Earlier Attack, F.B.I. Says

San Bernardino Suspects Spoke of Earlier Attack, F.B.I. Says

By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT for The New York Times

The man at the center of last week’s massacre in San Bernardino, Calif., began discussing jihad and martyrdom with his soon-to-be wife even before she came to America last year. He also may have plotted an attack as far back as 2012 with a neighbor who had purchased the two assault rifles used in the shooting, according to senior American officials.

The neighbor, Enrique Marquez, has spoken at length with federal authorities in recent days about his relationship with the gunman, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and their planning. Mr. Marquez has checked himself into a mental health facility and federal authorities are still trying to assess his credibility and corroborate his account.

It is not clear why the 2012 plot did not go forward. Mr. Marquez, a Walmart clerk, has told investigators that he knew Mr. Farook had radical beliefs, but that he did not know that Mr. Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 29, intended to carry out the shootings last Wednesday that killed 14 people and wounded 21 others. The couple were killed in a shootout with the police.

The new details about Mr. Marquez came as more evidence emerged that the couple had been radicalized before the recent rise of the Islamic State and before Ms. Malik, who was from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, had been given permission by the United States to enter the country in 2014.

In an appearance on Capitol Hill, the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said Wednesday that the couple, who some relatives say met online, had been talking of an attack as far back as two years ago.

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