The case is a reminder of how immigration marriage scams are an easy way for hostile foreigners to enter with little attention from the authorities. Apparently Pakistani Tashfeen Malik was quite the jihad enthusiast and she received no scrutiny on her K-1 fiancee visa before she entered and went on to commit mass murder in California. Retired INS senior specialist Michael Cutler was interviewed following the San Bernardino massacre about marriage fraud as an easy way to be admitted to the US:
TUCKER CARLSON: It turns out we knew very little about this woman before letting her in. Did we try to learn more?The following video report does a decent job of explaining the relationships, starting with the Farook brothers, the deceased shooter being Syed Rizwan and the brother arrested today being Syed Raheel. The non-shooter brother married Tatiana Farook, a Russian woman, for her immigration convenience and her sister Mariya married the doofus neighbor, Enrique Marquez, who supplied the murder weapons and planned another jihad attack with Rizwan that never took place. Marquez has been awaiting trial and could do serious time.
MICHAEL CUTLER: Well, we try but you know we keep hearing about the vetting process for refugees. In most cases, many of our visa programs have no vetting process. If you look at the K-1 program it has the highest approval rate or one of the highest approval rates because how do you screen this? This isn’t like marriage fraud. I did marriage fraud investigations and we’ve seen what terrorists have used marriage fraud and visa fraud — the 9/11 Commission talked about that by the way. But here you are talking about somebody going to immigration saying, I’m about to marry this person, I’ve never met them. Now they’re supposed to have met them within two years but if going to their countries so far away would impose a hardship or if their religious beliefs don’t require a face-to-face meeting you could bring someone in literally sight unseen. How do you make certain that this is legitimate?
San Bernardino Terrorist’s Brother, 2 Women Arrested In Marriage-Fraud Scheme, CBS Los Angeles, April 28, 2016
RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com/AP) — Three people with close family ties to the couple responsible for the San Bernardino terror attack pleaded not guilty in an alleged marriage-fraud scheme.
The defendants were arrested Thursday morning during two raids in Corona and Ontario. They are 31-year-old Syed Raheel Farook, his 31-year-old wife, Tatiana, and her 26-year-old sister, Mariya Chernykh.
The trio pleaded not guilty in federal court in Riverside Thursday afternoon. All three were released on bail. Bond was set at $25,000 for Raheel, $35,000 for his wife and $50,000 for Chernykh.
A federal grand jury issued a five-count indictment against the accused Wednesday, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
According to the indictment, the three defendants carried out a marriage fraud conspiracy to obtain immigration benefits for Chernykh, who allegedly entered into a sham marriage to Enrique Marquez Jr.
Marquez is charged with providing assault rifles to Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, who killed 14 people and wounded 22 others at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino on Dec. 2. He is also charged with conspiring with Rizwan Farook on two previously planned attacks that were never carried out.
Marquez confessed to the scheme when authorities questioned him about the shootings, and he acknowledged getting $200 a month to marry Chernykh, according to his criminal complaint.
If convicted of conspiracy to make false statements on federal immigration documents, the Farooks and Chernykh face up to five years in prison.
Chernykh also is charged with fraud, misuse of visas and other documents, perjury and two counts of making false statements, which could mean up to 25 years in prison. A judge ordered that Chernykh, who prosecutors alleged was most culpable for the sham marriage, be subject to electronic monitoring.
The government may have brought the charges as a bargaining chip in order to get more information that the Farooks and Chernykh haven’t shared, said James Wedick, a former FBI agent who was with the agency 35 years.
“It suggests to me they weren’t talking so the government decided to ask a grand jury to return charges,” Wedick said. “If they were cooperating, they’d probably make some kind of deal.”
According to an indictment, Syed Raheel and Tatiana Farook acted as witnesses to the union of her sister and Marquez and created a joint checking account along with a backdated lease to make it appear as if all four of them lived together.
Prosecutors said Tatiana accompanied her sister to buy a $50 wedding ring, and Marquez and Chernykh posed in photos that were staged to make the marriage appear real.
All the while, Marquez was living with his mother next door to the house where the Farook brothers grew up, and Chernykh was living in a different city with her boyfriend, also the father of her child, according to the criminal complaint against Marquez.
Raheel Farook, the shooter’s older brother, earned two medals for fighting global terrorism for serving in the Navy from 2003 to 2007. In February, FBI agents spent hours searching his home in the Southern California city of Corona, carting out armloads of thick manila envelopes, a computer tower and an unidentifiable object so heavy it took two men to carry. That search warrant was sealed, and it wasn’t immediately clear if it was connected to Thursday’s arrests.
The Farook family maintains they had no inkling about the plot. His mother, Rafia Farook, lived with him, Tashfeen Malik, and their newborn daughter in a townhome near San Bernardino. She said she never saw anything to suggest her son and daughter-in-law were planning a massacre.
Malik was from Pakistan and came to the U.S. in July 2014 so she could marry Rizwan Farook, whose parents were born in Pakistan. Farook was born in Chicago and grew up in Southern California.