Saturday, September 23, 2023
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Terrorist’s Kin Plead Not Guilty to Sham Marriage

LOS ANGELES (CN) - The brother and sister-in-law of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that they conspired to help a relative enter into a sham marriage.

Riverside federal judge David Bristow said he did not believe that Syed Raheel Farook -brother of Syed Rizwan Farook - and his wife Tatiana Farook present a danger to the community.

As a marriage fraud case, the allegations in the government's indictment are only related to a conspiracy to arrange a sham marriage between Tatiana's sister Mariya Chernykh and Enrique Marquez, so the former could obtain immigration benefits.

Marquez is the only person who has been arrested in connection with the Dec. 2 terror attacks at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino for providing material support to Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik. Their attack on the center left 14 people dead and 22 wounded.

Wearing shackles and dressed in checked shirt and chinos, Syed Raheel Farook wiped tears from his eyes before the hearing began and buried his head in his hands.

In contrast, Tatiana was calm and composed, smiling as she consulted with her lawyer while her sister sat quietly next to her. A U.S. Marshall split up Tatiana and her husband after she kissed him on the cheek.

Bristow set bail at $25,000 for Syed Raheel Farook, $35,000 for Tatiana and $50,000 for Chernykh - the only defendant named in every count of the indictment.

The judge included electronic monitoring as a condition of her release. Both sisters are Russian citizens. Tatiana holds dual citizenship and Chernykh has lived in the United States since she was 19 years old.

Farook's mother Rafia Farook acted a surety for both her son and daughter in law.

Oscar Romero, the father of Chernykh's three-year-old child, acted as her surety.

A trial is scheduled for June in U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez's downtown LA courtroom.

According to United States Attorney Eileen Decker, a federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment against Syed and Tatiana Farook, and Chernykh on Thursday.

All three have been charged with participating in a marriage fraud conspiracy that involved making false statements under oath for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits for one of the defendants.

The indictment charges all three defendants with a conspiracy to knowingly make under oath a false statement with respect to a material fact in an application, affidavit, and other document required by the immigration laws and regulations of the United States.

This charge carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.

The indictment also charges Chernykh with fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents; perjury; and two counts of making material false statements to federal agents. These four charges carry a combined statutory maximum sentence of 25 years in federal prison.

Farook and his wife and accomplice, Tashfeen Malik, died after a gunfight with police.

In late December, Enrique Marquez Jr., a friend of Syed , was arrested on charges related to the San Bernardino attacks and marriage fraud.

Prosecutors accuse him of buying the assault rifles used in the San Bernardino terror attacks, of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, and of marriage fraud and making a false statement on immigration paperwork in relation to an alleged sham marriage with a member of Farook's family.

Marquez has pleaded not guilty.

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