Prosecutors sue to recover life insurance held by San Bernardino shooter

LOS ANGELES Federal prosecutors filed a civil forfeiture action on Tuesday seeking to seize the proceeds of two life insurance policies held by Syed Rizwan Farook, who with his wife killed 14 people in a shooting rampage in San Bernardino, California.

Farook, 28, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 27, died in a shootout with police hours after the massacre last December at the Inland Regional Center social services center where he worked.

Authorities have said the couple were inspired by Islamic extremism and have called the shootings the deadliest such incident on U.S. soil since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Twenty-one people were wounded.

According to the complaint for forfeiture, Farook obtained two life insurance policies through his job with San Bernardino County, one in 2012 for $25,000 and one in 2013 for $250,000. He named his mother, Rafia Farook, as the primary beneficiary of that coverage.

“Terrorists must not be permitted to provide for their designated beneficiaries through their crimes,” U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker said in announcing the lawsuit.

“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,” Decker said. “We will continue to use every tool available to seek justice on behalf of the victims of the San Bernardino terrorist attacks.”

The Minnesota Life Insurance Group, which according to prosecutors, issued the policies, could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday afternoon.

A former neighbor of Farook, Enrique Marquez, has been indicted on charges of furnishing assault rifles to the couple as well as conspiring with Farook in a previous plot. He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

In March, the U.S. Department of Justice unlocked the iPhone used by Farook with the help of an unidentified third party after Apple Inc (AAPL.O) refused to bypass the device’s encryption features.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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