New York Woman Charged with Sending Bitcoin to Islamic State Fighters

NY Woman Tried to Send Thousands to ISIS Using Bitcoin: Pros

NY woman Zoobia Shahnaz allegedly laundered 85,000 dollars through cryptocurrencies to fund the Islamic State before attempting to travel to Syria in July, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.

Zoobia Shahnaz of Long Island, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of NY said today, has been charged with bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and three counts of money laundering.

A USA citizen born in Pakistan with "no known criminal history", Shahnaz was arrested Wednesday and was to be arraigned Thursday afternoon in Central Islip federal court, officials said.

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". She used the loan and new lines of credit to purchase almost 62,000 dollars in bitcoin before then laundering the money and wiring it to several worldwide destinations. Her family thought she was headed to work that day, but weeks earlier she had quit her job as a lab tech at a Manhattan hospital, where she was making about $71,000 a year, officials said.

A USA woman from NY has been accused of using bitcoin and other crypto currencies which she bought with fraudulent bank loans to fund the so-called Islamic State.

"These transactions were motivated to benefit ISIS, which the defendant ultimately sought to join in Syria", the documents said.

"As a health care professional, in 2016, Ms. Shahnaz was a volunteer with the Syrian American Medical Society assisting other health care providers in delivering lifesaving medical care to Syrian refugees", her attorney, Steve Zissou, tells NPR.

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. On top of which, she allegedly tried to launder virtual currency to bolster terrorists' dwindling financial support.

Prosecutors say she was questioned at JFK Airport in July while attempting to travel to Syria. Her return flight was booked for September 4 from Istanbul, Turkey back to JFK.

She is being held without bail, pending trial.

Court filings suggest that part of the government's case will focus on the defendant's Internet search history.

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