The brother of one of the San Bernardino terrorists was arrested Thursday for setting up a sham marriage between his sister-in-law and the man who bought the rifles used in last year’s attack.
Syed Raheel Farook, his wife Tatiana, and her sister Mariya Chernykh were taken into custody by the Federal Bureau of Investigation after raids on homes in Corona and Ontario, California. Farook is the brother of Syed Rizwan Farook, who along with his wife Tashfeen Malik, shot and killed 14 people at a community center on Dec. 2, 2015. They were both killed in a shootout with police hours later.
The investigation into the terrorist attack uncovered the sham marriage between Chernykh and Enrique Marquez Jr., who was arrested last year for buying two AR-15 rifles for the terrorists prior to the attacks. Marquez is also charged with material support to terrorism and immigration fraud.
“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,” U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker said in a statement.
Chernykh paid Marquez $600 after they signed immigration documents stating they lived at the same address, according to the criminal complaint.
Chernykh didn’t even live with Marquez but with her boyfriend and their child in a different town.
According to the complaint, Syed Raheel Farook helped Marquez and Chernykh sign up for a joint checking account and forged a joint lease for the two in December 2015 and backdated it to November 2014. When he filed immigration documents for Tatiana in July 2015, Marquez listed Farook’s address as their residence from November on, while the bank account registered just two weeks before the marriage listed an alternate address.
Syed Raheel Farook and Tatiana were witnesses on the marriage certificate and coached Marquez for their immigration interview, according to the criminal complaint. Tatiana, it adds, cautioned her sister to keep photos of her real family off of Facebook, while her husband signed an affidavit promising to financially support Chernykh.
Before their scheduled immigration interview, Chernykh and her sister bought Marquez a wedding band for $50 and the newlyweds texted about how nervous they were, the complaint states.
Marquez told Chernykh that he was afraid of being imprisoned for fraud, but the next day allegedly posted on social media that he was also involved in terrorist plots.
And Tatiana tried to keep up the image of her sister’s sham marriage even after her brother-in-law, Syed Rizwan Farook, was killed by police. When questioned the day after the San Bernardino attacks, she told agents that the married couple lived together, in her home.
Tatiana and Chernykh both immigrated from Russia, the latter in 2009. Syed Raheel Farook is a Navy veteran who worked for the local government. The Daily Beast misidentified him as his brother, Syed Rizwan Farook, as the attacker in December before correcting the error.