San Bernardino Shooter’s Mom|Knew About the Plot, Insurer Says

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – Though prosecutors have not indicated a link, an insurer caught in the middle of the government’s forfeiture complaint against a San Bernardino terrorist’s life insurance policies claims in court that his mother had “material knowledge” of last year’s attack.
     Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik murdered 14 people and wounded 22 during a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino on Dec. 2 in the deadliest terror attack in America since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The couple was killed that same day in a gun battle with police.
     A federal civil asset forfeiture complaint was filed last month against a $25,000 death benefit from Minnesota Life Insurance, which filed a federal interpleader complaint in Riverside on Wednesday.
     Farook later took out a supplemental life policy from the same insurer worth $250,000, naming his mother Rafia Farook as the primary beneficiary of the policies and naming his sister Saira Khan as a contingent beneficiary.
     In the lawsuit, Minnesota Life says that Rafia Farook “had material knowledge of, and/or participated in, the planning of the terrorist attack executed by the insured.”
     “Minnesota Life is informed and believes that the insured was living with Ms. Farook at a home in Redlands, California at the time of the attack, and that the insured built improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and stockpiled weapons and ammunition at their shared residence,” the June 8 lawsuit states.
     Syed Farook’s sister could yet make a claim to the death benefits and the insurer says that it “currently lacks information or belief as to Ms. Khan’s involvement in the terrorist attack.”
     Because of these unanswered questions, Minnesota Life says it is “uncertain” whether it should pay the death benefits to the named beneficiaries. It asks the court to resolve the dispute and discharge the insurer from liability.
     Authorities are permitted to seize assets related to terrorist acts, and the government says that when Farook executed the terror attack he intended to “influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, and/or to retaliate against government conduct.”
     Enrique Marquez is the only person charged in connection with the terror attacks. He is accused of providing material support to Farook by helping him obtain assault rifles and a bottle of explosive powder.
     Federal prosecutors in April brought a marriage fraud case against Farook’s brother Syed Raheel Farook and sister-in-law Tatiana Farook, accusing them of conspiring to help Tatiana’s sister Mariya Chernykh enter into a sham marriage with Marquez so she could claim benefits.
     Minnesota Life’s six-page complaint names as defendants Rafia Farook, Saira Khan and the United States of America.
     U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Thom Mrozek declined to comment.
     Neither the FBI nor federal prosecutors have indicated that there is evidence linking Rafia Farook to the attack.
     The insurer is represented by Cristyn Chadwick of the law firm Reed Smith. Minnesota Life spokesman Jeff Bakken said he could not comment on pending litigation.
     An attorney for the Farook family did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.

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