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Zapata, born Jorge Rafael Marquez, was a Mexican national and an international terrorist devoted to sowing anarchy. A genius and mathematical savant, Zapata was adept at recognizing incredibly complex patterns and carried out a string of random, unpredictable attacks on behalf of various causes, all calculated to further his goal of breaking down the world's governments.

Some years before Day 1, Zapata was finally stopped following a complex sting operation by CTU agents Jack Bauer, Ryan Chappelle, and RAND Corporation analyst Talia Gerwehr, who applied her expertise in chaos theory to identify his next activities. Bauer executed him after a failed plot to assassinate Martin Webb, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and bring about the collapse of the American economy.


Early life and career[]

Jorge Marquez was born in Chiapas, Mexico to a poor soybean farmer, and recognized his intellectual gifts from an early age. He had a photographic memory, and learned multiplication tables while his classmates were learning addition, later applying advanced algebra and calculus to help his father's farm reach its maximum yield. When given a Rubik's Cube by a cousin vising from the United States, Rafael solved it in thirty-seven seconds. The next day he started out on the journey north to America.

In the U.S., Marquez stayed with his uncle Juan Olivera and cousin Sofia in Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles. He fell in with the street gang MS-13, which at the time was a small-time criminal racket. Marquez's influence helped transform it into a viable criminal empire, which eventually operated in cities across the country. Yet he recognized the group's limitations, and shifted his focus to the growing field of personal computing. At some point, Marquez left the gang, one of the few to do so and live, and ran away from his uncle's house.

At the age of twenty, Marquez, going by his middle name "Rafael," co-authored a highly successful Internet browser along with other software ventures with his partner Amistad Medved. Marquez's algorithms revolutionized the computing world — Seth Ludonowski claimed that half the software programs running at CTU Los Angeles could be credited to his work — and made him incredibly wealthy. His work also found applications in voice recognition, deep space exploration satellites, and artificial intelligence.

Yet he and Medved reached an impasse when Marquez came up with an algorithm that would allow users to latch onto the fastest possible Internet connection. Medved had invested heavily in several Internet service providers who provided tiered service, faster service for higher payments, and refused to allow its release. Marquez, reminded of sharecropper scams in Chiapas and MS-13 extortion rackets he had witnessed, walked away from the company and took a new name.

A year later, in the late 1990s, news reached Marquez that his father and cousin in Chiapas had been shot for protesting the neglect of the Mexican government. Driving on Interstate 5 through the San Joaquin Valley, Marquez recognized that the entire world was a puzzle like the Rubik's Cube, one that needed to be broken before it could be rebuilt, and saw that acts of violence were the only way to accomplish it. He pulled over near the Buttonwillow/McKittrick exit, left his car, and Jorge Marquez was never seen again. Authorities later found his abandoned car at the side of the road, with no sign of where he had gone. (Chaos Theory)

International terrorist[]

Marquez assumed the name "Zapata," and quickly became notorious as an international terrorist. He was likened to the Weathermen and the Red Brigade of the 1970s, with no specific cause beyond disrupting the status quo. On one occasion, he assisted the Basque group ETA bomb a train station in Spain, then provided the Spanish government information that led to the arrest of several ETA members. On another, he bombed polling places during an election in Venezuela, helping ensure the leftists gained power, and then destroyed the country's power stations once the new government was installed. Zapata also spent a year helping rebels in Chechnya fight the Russian government, but suddenly stopped. This was presumably because he recognized that the crisis was helping Russia solidify its power in the region, before any other agency came to the same conclusion. He was responsible for a riot in the Los Angeles area, an act which the authorities were never aware of.

Zapata eluded every major entity that attempted to bring him into custody. Agents from Mossad had once "sniffed around his activities" in Jordan, and a national policeman in Buenos Aires discovered his real identity, but he still managed to elude capture. Zapata frequently used aliases, such as "Charles Ossipon," the name of a character in a novel by Joseph Conrad, and "Bernard de la Plaz." Being well-read and philosophical, Zapata often drew inspiration from historical writers and public figures, among them Borges, Mao, Louis Pasteur, and William Shakespeare. (Chaos Theory)

Webb assassination plot[]

Zapata plotted to assassinate Martin Webb, Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve, during the lead-up to a new stimulus package that the President planned to announce. This would destabilize the already-weak American economy and ultimately lead to its total collapse. To do this, Zapata planned to bribe Mark Kendall, an aging MMA fighter, to kill Webb following his match against Webb's grandson Jake at the Professional Reality Fighting Championship in Los Angeles. In exchange, Zapata would completely cover treatment costs for Kendall's sick daughter.

To distract authorities from his intended target, Zapata also arranged for a local weapons fence, Vanowen, to conduct an arms deal with Jemaah Islamiyah, an Islamist terrorist group based in in Indonesia, and intentionally leaked intelligence on the deal to local law enforcement. As a result, CTU focused their efforts on safeguarding the Pacific Rim Forum being held the same day, while remaining oblivious to the real threat.

Zapata arrived in Los Angeles on the Pacific Surfliner from San Diego, which he later destroyed as one of his many calculated attacks. With Francis Aguillar, a local MS-13 member, he went to the Staples Center to offer his deal to Kendall. The fighter angrily yelled at him to leave, yet held on to the envelope holding his assignment. While riding the metro away from the convention center, Zapata pointed out a man talking to a girl, and explained to Aguillar that the man planned to rape her. Society's rules prevented the girl from getting up and moving out of danger, demonstrating why society needed to be destroyed. Changing his plans, Zapata followed the pair off the train at the Flower Avenue station and assaulted the man with a stun gun, promising to kill him if he assaulted any more women.

Unknown to Zapata, agents at CTU Los Angeles had formulated a plan to locate Zapata by placing Jack Bauer undercover with one of Vanowen's underlings, Emil Ramirez. Bauer helped Vanowen complete the arms deal with the Indonesians, and returned to the Biltmore Hotel to meet with Francis Aguillar. To tie up the loose end, Aguillar killed Vanowen and Ramirez on Zapata's orders, and Jack pursued and killed him in the hotel's stairwell, believing he had just killed Zapata. In actuality, Zapata was elsewhere in the hotel, and watched as Dan Pascal took Bauer into custody. Though concerned, he chalked the experience up as a lesson and went for a morning jog.

Later in the morning, Zapata waited at a Starbucks in Larchmont until his associate Kyle Risdow, a profiteer and con artist, arrived to pick him up. They drove to the Reel Inn in Malibu, where Zapata met with Ukrainian assassin Franko and paid him to kill Smiley Lopez, the local MS-13 boss and Aguillar's superior. For most of the afternoon he hid out at Risdow's house in Temescal Canyon, explaining his philosophy to the bored Risdow. After hearing that Franko had been prevented from killing Lopez by Jack Bauer, he asked Risdow for a map of the major streets in Los Angeles.

In the late afternoon, Bauer came face-to-face with Zapata at Risdow's house. Zapata pretended to be Risdow, who had left on an errand, and professed his innocence. He claimed that "Zapata" had left, but mentioned something about the Pacific Rim Forum in Marina del Rey. Against his better judgment, Jack left the house to pursue the lead, only to learn too late from Jamey Farrell that the Santa Monica Police Department had arrested the real Kyle Risdow, and that he had just let the real Zapata slip from his grasp.

At 4:40pm, Gabriel Panatello, Doogie, and four other drivers deliberately got into accidents on freeways throughout the L.A. area. Zapata calculated the sites to completely stall traffic on all the major freeways, to hinder pursuit after he carried out his attack. He arrived at the Staples Center for the fighting championship, and took a seat near Martin Webb himself. However, he decided to move across the stadium after noticing an increased police presence, and was stunned to see Jack Bauer show up at the event as well.

Against all expectation, Mark Kendall successfully defeated Jake Webb in the match, enraging Zapata. He retrieved a machine pistol, hidden at the Center the previous night, and attempted to kill Webb himself, but Webb's bodyguard Johan jumped in front and took the bullets. Zapata fled the convention center, with Jack hot on his tail. Both men on motorcycles, Jack pursued him to a median strip on the 110 Freeway, where Zapata had hidden a rocket-propelled grenade launcher obtained from the arms deal. After destroying an LAPD chopper in pursuit, he broke through the fence into the barranca beyond, but Jack caught up and managed to track him down. Zapata complimented him on his resourcefulness and unpredictability, but Jack replied that he was actually very predictable, and shot him in the head. (Chaos Theory)

Memorable quotes[]

  • Jehovah's Witness: Have you heard the word, my friend?
  • Zapata: I have heard seven from you, and will probably hear more.
  • Jehovah's Witness: If you're looking for guidance, you'll find it here. (offers pamphlet)
  • Zapata: Will it show me how to get to the Staples Center?
  • Jehovah's Witness: (laughs) No, but it'll show you the word of God.
  • Zapata: Ah. "To die for a religion is easier than to live it absolutely."
  • Jehovah's Witness: Huh?
  • Zapata: I'm going to make things easier on you. Enjoy the rest of your day.
(the train explodes ten minutes later, killing the Witness)

  • Jack Bauer: You missed the Chairman.
  • Zapata: A shame, too. It would have been interesting to see the infrastructure of his company collapse. Oh well, sometimes events are unpredictable after all. (smiles) You, for instance. You're quite a tool for your government. A loose cannon, right? A maverick. Unpredictable.
  • Jack Bauer: Not really. The truth is I'm pretty predictable. (executes him)

Live appearances[]