(NEW YORK) -- The FBI has arrested three people in California connected to the San Bernardino shootings -- but federal charges against them stem from allegations of a marriage fraud conspiracy and do not suggest any direct link to the December 2015 attack.
Syed Raheel Farook -- brother of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook -- and two others with ties to the shooter were arrested Thursday morning on federal conspiracy, marriage fraud and false statement charges, according to the Justice Department.
“Last year’s tragedy in San Bernardino showed yet again how our nation’s legal immigration system can be subverted and exploited,” Joseph Macias, the head of Homeland Security Investigations in Los Angeles, said in a statement.
A federal grand jury in the Central District of California Wednesday issued a five-count indictment against Syed Raheel Farook, 31, of Corona, California; Mariya Chernykh, 26, of Ontario, California; and her sister, Tatiana Farook, 31, of Corona, California.
In November 2014, Chernykh married Enrique Marquez, the former neighbor and friend who allegedly gave Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, weapons and other items used in the San Bernardino attack. Marquez has already been charged with terrorism-related offenses and marriage fraud, after he allegedly admitted he was paid to enter into what authorities called a “sham marriage” with Chernykh so she could stay in the United States.
If convicted of the charges against her, Chernykh could face up to 25 years in prison.
Syed Raheel Farook and Tatiana Farook are accused of taking part in the conspiracy after witnessing the wedding between Marquez and Chernykh, taking staged family pictures with the couple, and then furthering the marriage in other ways.
They each face up to five years in prison if convicted.
On Dec. 2, 2015, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 of Farook’s coworkers and injured 22 others at a work holiday party in San Bernardino, California. Farook and Malik later died in a gun battle with authorities.
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