The FBI executed arrest warrants for San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook’s brother today in connection with what appears to be a conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. Syed Raheel Farook, brother of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, was arrested along with Mariya Chernykh and Tatiana Farook. All three were charged together in a five-count federal indictment.
The federal charges against the San Bernardino shooter’s brother, Syed Raheel Farook, include conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. The FBI issued three warrants this morning, as the Los Angeles Times and other outlets reported, but it was at first unclear what the outcome of those warrants would be – arrests, searches, or further leads in the San Bernardino shooting case.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Mariya Chernykh entered into a fraudulent marriage with Enrique Marquez, a friend of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook as part of a deal to give Chernykh legal status in the United States. Marquez reportedly accepted money in order to marry Mariya Chernykh. The FBI stated that the investigation of the San Bernardino shooting led them to the marriage fraud conspiracy as a part of the probe into the terror attack.
“This is a development in the San Bernardino investigation, but it’s not directly linked to the shooting. It’s the marriage stuff,” said a law enforcement source who spoke with the New York Daily News.
Enrique Marquez and Mariya Chernykh reportedly married in November 2014 in a private ceremony held at the Islamic Society of Corona. The marriage, reports indicate, was witnessed by Syed Raheel Farook and his wife, Tatiana Farook, as part of a plan for Mariya Chernykh to attain legal status in the United States. Chernykh is Tatiana Farook’s sister.
Earlier this year, Enrique Marquez was criminally charged by federal investigators for his role in purchasing the guns used by Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, in the deadly San Bernardino shooting which claimed the lives of 14 people and caused injury to 22 others.
FBI agents have executed three search warrants at Syed Raheel Farook’s home since the San Bernardino shooting. In the early days following the shooting, Syed Raheel Farook’s home was searched by federal investigators, and again in February as FBI looked into the San Bernardino shooters’ movements prior to the deadly attack on December 2, 2015.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the FBI is still searching for the hard drive from Syed Rizwan Farook’s laptop, which investigators claim could contain valuable evidence for determining the San Bernardino shooters’ movements and communications prior to the attack.
The marriage conspiracy charges come after months of speculation that Syed Raheel Farook’s marriage to Russian national Tatiana Farook may have been part of a marriage fraud scam. While it’s unclear whether or not Raheel Farook faces charges for his own marriage, multiple reports conclude that Enrique Marquez allegedly received money in exchange for marrying Tatiana Farook’s sister, Mariya Chernykh.
Thus far, there have been no indications that Syed Raheel Farook, a Navy veteran who won medals for his military service, was in any way involved in the San Bernardino shooting. Investigators have affirmed that today’s arrests are not directly connected to the San Bernardino attack.
Syed Raheel Farook served in the U.S. Navy from 2003 to 2007, serving for three years aboard the USS Enterprise as an information system technician, during which time he received the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal before retiring from the Navy in 2007, reports NBC News.
The Inquisitr has previously reported on the San Bernardino shooting, including the FBI’s contentious fight with Apple over the San Bernardino iPhone.
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]