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THE SITUATION ROOM

Friend of San Bernardino Terrorist Arrested; Interview with Congressman Adam Schiff; Friend of San Bernardino Terrorist Arrested; Trump Does Late Night, Cruz & Rubio Do Battle; Marquez Charged with Material Support for Terrorism. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired December 17, 2015 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[18:00:02] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Holiday threats. President Obama briefed on potential dangers during a rare visit to the U.S. counter-terrorism headquarters. His latest high-profile attempt to reassure anxious Americans. Are his efforts easing terror fears?

And high-tech menace. Top terror officials warning of the danger of encrypted messaging, readily available apps that allow terrorists to plot and order attacks undetected. Are smartphones now the terrorists' most powerful weapon.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BLITZER: We're following the breaking news this hour. The arrest of a close friend of the San Bernardino terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook, 24- year-old Enrique Marquez, now facing three charges including material support for terrorism and providing the assault weapons that were used in the attack. According to the affidavit Marquez has told investigators he and Farook had earlier plotted attacks on a community college and a busy freeway at rush hour.

We're also following the political battle that first erupted between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz during a CNN Republican presidential debate. The two Cuban-American senators now locked in an increasingly fierce battle over immigration while each try to position themselves as the alternative candidate to the frontrunner, Donald Trump.

We're covering that and much more in this hour with our guests, including the top Democrat in the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff. And our correspondents and our expert analysts, they are also standing by.

Let's begin with our justice correspondent Pamela Brown.

Pamela, you have new details on this latest arrest in connection with the San Bernardino terror attack.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. We know Syed Farook's friend Enrique Marquez, he was arrested today. He has been arraigned facing multiple charges including material support to terrorism charges. Authorities say not only did he buy the guns that were used in the San Bernardino attacks, but that he plotted with Farook back in 2011 and 2012 to throw pipe bombs at innocent people in school cafeterias as well as a busy highway. The complaint says that these attacks were designed to inflict maximum damage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (voice-over): Twenty-four-year old Enrique Marquez is under arrest and now in federal custody, facing charges of providing material support to terrorists and making false statements to purchasing firearms. Those charges are centered on the two AR-15 used in the San Bernardino terrorist attacks and aborted plots that Marquez and Syed Farook planned in 2012.

Marquez allegedly told FBI investigators he bought the two guns for Syed Farook to help his friend from this Redlands neighborhood avoid scrutiny, a violation of federal and state law. In a twist, according to the complaint, prosecutors say Marquez called 911 after the shootings earlier this month to report his friend. He was the shooter, Marquez told the operator, adding Farook, quote, "used my gun in the shooting."

Marquez is also facing charges of visa and marriage frauds stemming from his marriage with a member of Farook's family, which authorities say is a sham. Marquez has told investigators he knew nothing about the San Bernardino attacks that Farook launched with his wife, Tashfeen Malik. She came to the U.S. under a fiancee visa in the summer of 2014 from Pakistan.