Police Arrest The San Bernardino Shooter’s Relatives In A Marriage Fraud Probe

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On Thursday morning, federal authorities launched early morning raids that ended in the arrest of three people linked to San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, who stormed his workplace with the help of his wife, Tashfeen Malik. They mowed down fourteen of Farook’s co-workers during a December holiday party, and the incident stands as the deadliest attack of terrorism on U.S. soil since 9/11. The massacre reignited the gun control issue, which has seen President Obama deliver far too many speeches after mass shootings.

The BBC reports that these arrests were carried out as part of the ongoing shooting investigation, but CNN notes that law enforcement doesn’t believe those arrested had advance notice of Farook’s attack plans. All three suspects (including Farook’s brother, who is a decorated U.S. Navy veteran) are being held on conspiracy and false statement charges related to a marriage fraud probe:

Syed Raheel Farook, the brother of Syed Rizwan Farook; his wife, Tatiana Farook; and her sister Mariya Chernykh were all arrested Thursday morning and charged in a five-count indictment filed in federal court that centers around a fraudulent marriage between Chernykh and Enrique Marquez, who has been charged with aiding in the deadly Dec. 2 attack at the Inland Regional Center.

The raid followed a 12-page indictment, which contains evidence of an illusory marriage that allowed Chernykh to achieve legal status in America. Marquez was reportedly paid to keep up the ruse, and law enforcement has gathered interviews where both parties lied about their union. The two apparently didn’t live with each other and only staged wedding photographs about a year after their supposed marriage date. All of this seems incidental to the shootings, but U.S. Atty. Eileen M. Decker explains more:

“This is the latest step in the comprehensive investigation into the horrific attacks in San Bernardino last year that took the lives of 14 innocent Americans and deeply affected so many more. As I have said previously, we owe the victims, and the entire community of San Bernardino, a thorough investigation that uncovers all criminal activity surrounding these events.”

Authorities appear to have done some thorough digging through bank accounts and lease agreements to secure the warrants needed for these arrests. This is a developing situation, and further details may unfold.

(via LA Times, BBC & CNN)