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The brother of San Bernardino terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook was arrested by the FBI on Thursday.
Syed Raheel Farook, his wife Tatiana and her sister Mariya Chernykh were charged with marriage fraud, according to ABC News.
According to prosecutors, Mariya’s marriage to Enrique Marquez Jr., the man charged with supplying the guns Syed Farook used in the Dec 2nd shootings, was a sham intended to help her achieve legal status in the U.S. after she overstayed her visa in 2009.
The couple even posed for staged pictures and had a $50 wedding ring to make the marriage look real, according to prosecutors.
Marquez admitted to the scheme while being questioned by prosecutors, and told them he was given $200 a month to go along with it, ABC News reported.
All three pleaded not guilty when they were arraigned Thursday and they now face a trial set to begin on June 21 in Los Angeles.
Federal Judge David Bristow ordered that Chernykh, who prosecutors contend was most responsible for the ruse, wear an electronic monitoring device after her boyfriend arrived in court Thursday and declared he would pay her $50,000 bond.
Farook’s mother paid the $25,000 bond each for her son and his wife.
Farook’s attorney, Ronald Cordova, insisted this was about marriage fraud and not terrorism.
But the Los Angeles Times reported that at one point he posted on social media admitting he was involved in terrorist plans.
Former FBI agent James Wedick told ABC News that the current charge might be a way to pressure the trio into giving more information into the San Bernardino attacks.
“It suggests to me they weren’t talking so the government decided to ask a grand jury to return charges,” he said. “If they were cooperating, they’d probably make some kind of deal.”
“It’s a mechanism for both the government and the defense lawyers to use to better their position — with the government trying to get information relative to terrorism, and the defense looking to resolve the matter without prison time,” Wedick continued.
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