New York 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.
Shahnaz appears to have engineered an elaborate financial scheme by taking out a loan for approximately 22,000 dollars and applying for multiple credit cards. She used the loan and new lines of credit to purchase nearly 62,000 dollars in bitcoin before then laundering the money and wiring it to several international destinations.
“These transactions were designed to avoid transaction reporting requirements, conceal the identity, source and destination of the illicitly obtained monies, and, ultimately, benefit ISIS,” the Department of Justice statement noted.
DOJ added they found “after conducting these financial transactions, the defendant sought to travel to Syria herself” continuing that Shahnaz constructed an itinerary to Pakistan with a multi-day layover in Turkey. She allegedly intended on crossing the Turkish-Syrian border to join the terrorist group. Shahnaz is a U.S. citizen who emigrated from Pakistan.
The incident is not the first time ISIS has solicited funds from Bitcoin. “In January 2017, Islamist militants in Indonesia funded for terrorist activities with money received through Bitcoin,” the Council on Foreign Relations noted, adding “the Mujahideen Shura Council—active in the Gaza Strip and considered a foreign terrorist organization by the United States since 2014—also launched a Bitcoin campaign last year, inviting supporters to donate money for the purchase of weapons.”
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