The 27-year-old New York woman was identified as Zoobia Shahnaz
The woman is said to have funnelled $62,000 to the group via bitcoin and other currencies
The woman could spend 90 years in prison based on the charges
NEW YORK, U.S. - A 27-year-old New York woman, identified as Zoobia Shahnaz was accused of funneling $62,000 to the terrorist group, ISIS via bitcoin and other currencies.
The American from Long Island, Shahnaz sent the money to the group earlier this year and is said to have taken out more than a dozen credit cards.
According to an indictment filed by U.S. attorneys in federal court, Shahnaz used the money she borrowed to buy cryptocurrency and send it abroad.
Later, the Department of Justice issued a press release in which it said that she sent more than $150,000, to benefit the terrorist group, but it did not specify what form the other $88,000 took.
The Department of Justice added that Shahnaz "engaged in a pattern of financial activity, culminating in several wire transactions, totaling over $150,000, to individuals and apparent shell entities in Pakistan, China, and Turkey."
It added, “These transactions were designed to avoid transaction reporting requirements, conceal the identity, source and destination of the illicitly obtained monies, and, ultimately, benefit ISIS."
She tried to leave the U.S. for Syria via Pakistan and Turkey but was stopped before she left the country.
According to reports, Shahnaz was indicted on five counts before the Eastern District of New York's federal court.
Further, they are three counts of money laundering, one of bank fraud, and one of conspiracy to money launder.
Reports noted that if she is convicted on all counts, she could spend 90 years in federal prison: 20 for each count of money laundering and 30 for fraud.
Steve Zissou, her lawyer said she was sending money overseas to help Syrian refugees.
Zissou said outside the courthouse, “What she saw made her devoted to lessening the suffering of a lot of the Syrian refugees and everything she does is for that purpose.”
This is not the first time terrorist groups have been linked to funding via cryptocurrencies.
The Council on Foreign Relations said that terrorists have increasingly started to use bitcoin over the past few years, increasing from about 100 daily transactions in 2009 to 282,000 daily transactions in 2017 so far.
According to the former CIA counterterrorism analyst Yaya Fanusie, the Ibn Taymiyyah Media Center, a jihadi propaganda group in Gaza, started soliciting funds on bitcoin — at least $2,500 for each fighter — as early as June 2016.
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