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Mother of San Bernardino terrorist will plead guilty to destroying evidence on day of attack

Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik were responsible for the December 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino.
(FBI)

The mother of Syed Rizwan Farook, who carried out the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack that left 14 people dead, has agreed to plead guilty to shredding evidence in her home that connected her son and his wife to the massacre, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Rafia Shareef, 66, will plead guilty to one count of altering records with the intent of impeding a federal investigation, a charge that carries up to 20 years in federal prison. The U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles said the plea agreement called for no more than 18 months behind bars.

Shareef was living with her son and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, in Redlands at the time of the Dec. 2, 2015 attack. That day, the couple left their infant child with Shareef, falsely telling her they were going to a medical appointment, according to the plea agreement.

Over the next hours, Malik and Farook stormed the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, killing 14 people at a holiday party and wounding 22. The couple then died in a firefight with police.

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Shortly before noon, Shareef learned that authorities had linked her son to the rampage. Prosecutors noted in the plea agreement that there is no allegation she had prior knowledge about the attack.

But when family members arrived at the home later in the afternoon, Shareef expressed her belief that Malik and Farook were the perpetrators, according to a court filing.

Before leaving home, Shareef walked into her son’s bedroom and shredded at least one document, a map. In her plea agreement, Shareef acknowledged that she knew her son had produced the map and that it was “directly related to Farook and Malik’s planning of the attack.” Authorities did not elaborate further on what the map depicted.

Shareef, a resident of Corona, signed the plea agreement on Feb. 26 and is scheduled to appear in federal court in Riverside on March 16. Her attorney, Charles Swift of the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America, did not respond to messages seeking comment.

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The case is the latest in a handful of prosecutions of the wider Farook family that continue more than four years after the deadly attack.

Enrique Marquez Jr., a former neighbor accused of buying the rifles that Farook and Malik used in the killings, has sought to withdraw his 2017 guilty plea to providing material support to terrorists.

Shareef’s son Syed Raheel Farook; his wife, Tatiana Farook; and her sister, Mariya Chernykh, have all pleaded guilty to immigration fraud charges in connection with Chernykh’s sham marriage to Marquez. All three are scheduled to be sentenced later this year.


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