New York woman charged with laundering money to ISIS using Bitcoin

A woman from Long Island, N.Y., was indicted Thursday after she allegedly stole more than $85,000 and converted the money to Bitcoin and similar virtual currencies to provide support to the Islamic State.

The five-count indictment charges Zoobia Shahnaz with bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and three substantive counts of money laundering, according to the Justice Department. The indictment and court filing allege Shahnaz defrauded several financial institutions and garnered more than $85,000.

She then allegedly converted the money to Bitcoin and similar cryptocurrencies, the proceeds of which were then laundered and moved to overseas funds to support ISIS.

“As alleged, the defendant Zoobia Shahnaz engaged in a bank fraud scheme, purchased Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and laundered money overseas, intending to put thousands of dollars into the coffers of terrorists,” Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Bridget Rohde said in a statement.

Shahnaz laundered the proceeds to people in Pakistan, China, and Turkey and “accessed ISIS propaganda, violent jihad-related websites and message boards, and social media and messaging pages of known ISIS recruiters, facilitators and financiers,” the indictment said.

She also investigated maps of regions in Syria controlled by ISIS and searched “ISIS recruiters, financiers, and fighters, including those who have urged lone-wolf attacks against American targets” and intended to “travel to Syria and join ISIS,” according to federal officials.

Law enforcement at John F. Kennedy International Airport questioned her as she tried to leave the country on a flight headed to Islamabad, Pakistan. The trip contained a layover lasting several days in Istanbul, Turkey, which prosecutors note is a “common point of entry” for people from Western countries attempting to join ISIS.

Shahnaz is a U.S. citizen and was arrested Wednesday. If Shahnaz is convicted, she faces up to 30 years in prison for the bank fraud charge and 20 years in prison for each money laundering count.

This post originally appeared on Washington Examiner

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