NY woman charged with sending $85000 in Bitcoin to support Isil

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The DOJ identified the woman as 27-year-old Zoobia Shahnaz, who was born in Pakistan and worked as a lab technician in the U.S. Shahnaz was charged with bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and three counts of money laundering.

While she was transferring money to the terrorist group overseas, authorities claimed, Shahnaz had "accessed ISIS propaganda, violent jihad-related websites and message boards, and social media and messaging pages of known ISIS recruiters, facilitators and financiers".

Various news reports describe Shahnaz as a US citizen with no criminal record who was born in Pakistan.

Shahnaz, per the indictment, is accused of sending $150,000 to shell firms in Pakistan, China and Turkey.

Shahnaz took out more than a dozen credit cards earlier this year and used the money she borrowed to by cryptocurrency and send it overseas, according to an indictment filed by U.S. attorneys in federal court. "Persons engaged in illicit activity such as money laundering and terrorist financing may use cryptocurrencies to avoid detection by law enforcement or intelligence services". Shahnaz's family is said to have been unaware of her travel plans at the time of her arrest; Time magazine reports they were also unaware she had quit her job.

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Shahnaz, of Brentwood, had also done extensive internet research on moving to Syria to join ISIS, including "tips and reminders" on making the move, and had read articles on the "top female jihadis", prosecutors say. She converted the credit card funds to buy more than $60,000 in bitcoin and other digital currencies. She is now being held without bail.

After allegedly swindling the financial institutions out of the money, Shahnaz proceeded with the conversion of that money into bitcoin and similar currencies, which were then moved to overseas funds and laundered in order to support the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), the DOJ press release stated.

"Her itinerary included a multi-day layover in Istanbul, Turkey - a common point of entry for individuals traveling from Western countries to join ISIS in Syria", the DOJ document stated.

If convicted on all charges, Shahnaz could be sentenced to as many as 90 years in prison, according to the attorney's office.

NBC News in NY quotes defense lawyer Steve Zissou claiming Shahnaz was "not helping ISIS, but was instead collecting money for humanitarian means".

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