U.S. ISIS supporter receives a 13 year sentence for funding the terrorist organization using crypto currencies, including Bitcoin, in 2017.
A United States federal court has sentenced a US citizen to 13 years in prison for laundering money for ISIS using Bitcoin and other crypto currencies.
According to a March 13 Justice Department announcement, Zoobia Shahnaz of Long Island was sentenced to 13 years in prison for working to fund the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham through payments in cryptosystems of more than $150,000. She also worked to move to Syria to become a member of ISIS.
Fraudulent loans for financing
To raise the funds, Shahnaz allegedly defrauded major banks, including American Express, Chase and Discover, according to the original indictment of December 2017.
The United States alleged that Shahnaz obtained loans and credit cards under false pretenses, which he used to buy crypto-currencies that he channeled through Pakistan, China and Turkey and eventually to ISIS.
As Cointelegraph reported, Shahnaz was en route to Syria in July 2017 when officials prevented him from boarding a flight at New York’s JFK airport. She was subsequently arrested later in the year.
Reasons: Medical aid for Syrian refugees
Shahnaz pleaded guilty to the charges in November 2018. In requesting a lower sentence in a sentencing memorandum in early March, Shahnaz’s legal adviser relied on her age, born in 1990, as well as her volunteer work with Syrian refugees through the Syrian-American Medical Society.
The sentencing memorandum continued to highlight the history of Shahnaz’s charitable work:
“Unlike the 79 Americans identified in the study who traveled to Syria and/or Iraq since 2011 and joined jihadi groups active in those countries, none was motivated by the same things that drove Zoobia Shahnaz. That is, the desire to heal the sick and care for the wounded”
Since the five charges against him could have cost him 110 years behind bars instead of 13, the defense strategy could have worked.