Three people related to the couple responsible for shooting rampage in San Bernardino have been arrested by the FBI on charges of conspiracy and marriage fraud.
The reason for the arrests are unrelated to the massacre but it is a major development in FBI’s widespread investigation regarding the attacks carried out by Syed Rizwaan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik.
The arrested people include Syed Raheel Farook, 31, his wife Tatiana Farook, 31 and her sister Mariya Chernykh.
According to the Indictment, Enrique Marquez Jr. was named as a con-conspirator in the fraud for playing the role of Chernykh’s husband. It is imperative to note that Marquez was charged last year for purchasing two rifles which were later used in the San Bernardino attack led by Raheel’s younger brother and his sister-in-law.
Raheel, his wife Tatiana and her sister Chernykh have been charged with the conspiracy of creating a fake marriage between Marquez and Chernykh.
U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker said that ‘we owe the victims and the entire community of San Bernardino, a thorough investigation revealing all the criminal activity with respect to these events’.
Meanwhile, FBI has managed to recover info which indicated that the marriage between Raheel and his wife Tatiana was a complete sham. The couple appeared to live happily in a home in corona. FBI agents have stated that every single thing related with the marriage was a fraud.
As of now, all three accused have pleaded not guilty at the court in Riverside. Raheel Farook’s mother, Rafia was also present in the courtroom. She has agreed to pay the respective necessary bond amounts of $25000 and $35000 if her son and daughter in law do not show up for the next appearance in the court.
Chernykh’s husband (the father of her child) has also agreed to pay the $50000 bond amount. All three have been asked to stay within Southern California and their passports have been confiscated.
After the hearing, Ron Cordova, Syed Raheel Farook’s attorney told the reporters that the family should not suffer because of Rizwaan’s horrible deeds and that act of a deranged brother should not be attributed to the entire family.
If the Farook’s are proven guilty, they can be sentenced up to 5 years in a federal prison whilst Chernykh’s crimes are more serious and she can be sentenced to a maximum of 25 years.
The agents have further revealed that Marquez was allegedly paid $200 a month for playing Chernykh’s husband. Chernykh’s has been consistently lying about the fact that she is living with Marquez whereas she used to live in Ontario. The pair have tried to make their marriage look legit but due to some reasons, they were not really successful in making others believe the same.
Meanwhile, the indictment stated that both the couples used photographs and social media to make others believe that their relationships were real. Tatiana accompanies her sister for buying a $50 wedding ring whilst Marquez and Chernykh had ‘happy photographs’ to justify their marriage.
Raheel Farook has apparently earned two medals in the military for fighting against global terrorism within 2003 and 2007. During the search conducted in February, FBI agents recovered suspicious objects from his residence at the Southern California city of Corona. The connection of this search with the arrest is still debatable.
As of now, there are some questions which have not been answered. There are doubts regarding the theory that whether the shooters received any help from others, or if they had any outside support. It seems, the search will continue for a while.
Rafia Farook, Rizwan’s mother also claims that they had no idea about the attacks led by her son and daughter-in-law. All of them used to live in the same house in a town home near San Bernardino. Tashfeen Malik, who is believed to be a Pakistani shifted to U.S. in July 2014 on the pretext of marrying Rizwaan.
There are a lot of details regarding the case which will unfold as the investigation takes its due course.