American woman charged with sending $85,000 using Bitcoin to IS

  • Pakistani born lady was arrested in July at JFK Airport
  • Shahnaz was sending money overseas to help Syrian refugees: Counsel

LONG ISLAND – A New York woman has been accused of laundering $85,000 to support the Islamic State through cryptocurrencies including the Bitcoin.

The accused, Zoobia Shahnaz who was being held without bail was charged with bank fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Though the 27-year-old lady worked as a lab technician in the US but, she was born in Pakistan.

Prosecutors who are dealing probably the first case of its kind allege that the lady took out fraudulent loans of $85,000 (£63,000) in order to buy the bitcoin online to send the money through Pakistan, China and Turkey for funding the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

They continued that Ms Shahnaz obtained a Pakistani passport in July and booked a flight to Pakistan with a stop-over in Istanbul, intending to travel to Syria, however, she came under the radar of law enforcers and was arrested at John F Kennedy airport carrying $9,500 in cash, though the permissible limit for taking out money out of a country without declaring the funds is $10,000.

What raised the eyebrows of immigration officials was the discovery of her electronic devices which showed numerous searches for Islamic State-related material.

According to documents submitted in court, the lady who resides in Brentwood, Long Island utilised shell companies, “to avoid transaction reporting requirements, conceal the identity, source and destination of the illicitly-obtained monies, and, ultimately, benefit Isis,”.

The prosecutors accused that Shahnaz, who was earning more than £52,000 a year in her Manhattan hospital job, made the transfers between March and August of this year.

Shahnaz appeared before Magistrate Judge Kathleen Tomlinson on Thursday afternoon and was remanded in custody, to appear again in court in January.

According to her counsel, she was sending money overseas to help Syrian refugees.

“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,” Mr Zissou said outside the courthouse.

Legally, the accused can face a 30-year sentence for bank fraud and 20 years on each money laundering count.