- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 28, 2016

The brother of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook and two female family members were arrested Thursday on charges related to marriage fraud and visa misuse as part of the ongoing investigation into the terror attack, federal authorities announced.

The three people arrested are the deceased shooter’s brother, 31-year-old Syed Raheel Farook; his 31-year-old wife, Tatiana Farook; and Tatiana’s 26-year-old sister Mariya Chernykh.

Ms. Chernykh is the wife of Enrique Marquez, who was previously arrested and charged with helping Syed Rizwan Farook buy the firearms that were later used in the Dec. 2 mass shooting. Farook and his wife Pakistan-born wife Tashfeen Malik, stormed a holiday party thrown by the government agency that employed Farook and opened fire inside, killing 14 people and injuring 22. The radicalized Muslim couple was later killed in a firefight with police.

Investigators have been working to determine whether they had any outside help in planning the attack and if Malik should have been more closely scrutinized when she entered the U.S. on a spousal visa with Farook.

Prosecutors said Thursday that the three defendants were indicted on five criminal counts, including conspiracy to make false statements to subvert immigration laws, making false statements to federal officers, and fraud and misuse of visas.

“Today’s arrests open a new phase in the process of bringing to justice all individuals who allegedly committed crimes that were uncovered during our exhaustive investigation,” said Eileen M. Decker, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. “The charges also reflect the importance we place on statements made to law enforcement officials during a terrorism investigation.”

At a Thursday afternoon hearing in California, all three entered pleas of not guilty.

Ms. Chernykh, who prosecutors allege was most culpable, had her bond set at $50,000 and ordered her to be subject to electronic monitoring. She told the court she expected to make bond.

Raheel Farook, mother of the two Farook brothers, posted the $25,000 bond on behalf of her son and daughter-in-law and both were set to be released by Thursday evening.

“This is about a misrepresentation, an act of marriage … not about terrorism, attorney Ronald Cordova told the court in asking that his client be allowed to post bond.

Prosecutors said Ms. Chernykh, a Russian citizen, entered into a sham marriage with Mr. Marquez in order to remain legally in the U.S. In exchange for pretending they were married and accompanying her to immigration interviews, she paid Mr. Marquez.

A federal indictment states that Mr. and Mrs. Farook signed off on marriage certificates indicating they witnessed the couple’s marriage, even though prosecutors said they knew it was a sham.

They further participated in the scheme by creating a backdated lease agreement to make it appear that Mr. Marquez and Ms. Chernykh had been living together and helped take steps to make the marriage appear legitimate, such as purchasing a wedding ring and staging photos of the two together.

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