Feds File Suit Against Family of San Bernardino Shooter to Seize Life Insurance Polices

Image: Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik
Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik

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By Andrew Blankstein and Elizabeth Chuck

Federal prosecutors on Tuesday filed a lawsuit that would allow them to seize the proceeds of life insurance policies held by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

The two policies, owned by Syed Rizwan Farook, were worth a total of $275,000 and listed Farook's mother, Rafia Farook, as the beneficiary.

Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, died in a shootout with law enforcement after the Dec. 2, 2015, attack at the Inland Resource Center that killed 14 people.

One policy, worth $25,000, was taken out in 2012, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office announcing the civil asset forfeiture suit. The other, for $250,000, was obtained in 2013.

Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik in Chicago on July 27, 2014.U.S. Government

Under federal law, assets derived from terrorism are subject to forfeiture. A federal judge must approve an application before the government can seize the money.

Related: Three Connected to San Bernardino Shooter Arrested

“My office intends to explore every legal option available to us to ensure these funds are made available to the victims of this horrific crime," U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker said in the statement. We will continue to use every tool available to seek justice on behalf of the victims of the San Bernardino terrorist attacks.”

Authorities are still investigating the attacks, which they say Farook, his wife, and a co-conspirator, Enrique Marquez, Jr., began planning as far back as 2011.

The case prompted a legal fight between the Justice Department and Apple, which refused to unlock an iPhone that Farook used. The government eventually said it had managed to access the data stored on the phone.

During their investigation of the family, federal officials arrested three others with links to the attackers — the older brother and sister-in-law of Farook, plus Marquez's wife — on charges related to a possible sham marriage. They don't face any terror-related offenses.