Pakistani-American woman arrested for using bitcoin to fund ISIS

Alicia Cross
December 16, 2017

With that, she bought US$62,000 worth of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which can offer owners anonymity in transfers and payments.

Zoobia Shahnaz, 27, of Brentwood, was charged in federal court with bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and three counts of money laundering, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

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.

Shahnaz allegedly meant to "put thousands of dollars into the coffers of terrorists", Acting U.S. Attorney for the Easter District of New York Bridget Rohde said in a statement.

Officials say that between approximately March and July 31, the date of a her failed attempt to travel to Syria, Shahnaz fraudulently obtained a loan for about $22,500.

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Ms Shahnaz was born in Pakistan and worked as a lab technician in the US. "Her humanitarian efforts then and since were motivated by her commitment to helping alleviate the plight of the people in the Middle East". It's safe to say that her motivation, as expressed by her lawyer, should be called into question. The defendant "engaged in a scheme to defraud numerous financial institutions".

"In June, Shahnaz resigned from her job as a laboratory expert at the Manhattan Hospital and obtained a Pakistani passport. These transactions were created to avoid transaction reporting requirements, hide the identity, source and destination of the illicitly obtained monies, and, ultimately, benefit ISIS".

After making the transfers, Shahnaz tried to travel to Syria, prosecutors alleged.

She was arrested with $9,500 in cash at New York's John F. Kennedy airport.

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