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Brentwood woman laundered money to support ISIS

18 December 2017, 01:06 | Damon Campbell

Brentwood woman laundered money to support ISIS

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Shahnaz was charged in a grand jury indictment unsealed Thursday with bank fraud and money laundering to support a foreign terrorist organization. Prosecutors said Shahnaz, "defrauded numerous financial institutions and obtained over $85,000 in illicit proceeds, which she converted to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Shahnaz, a USA citizen, was arrested yesterday". A month later she attempted to get on a flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport with the intention to leave the US and join ISIS.

"She then made several wire transactions to individuals and opaque entities in Pakistan, China and Turkey, which were created to avoid transaction reporting requirements and hide the identity, source and destination of the illicitly-obtained monies", court documents said.

Zoobia Shahnaz of Long Island, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of NY said today, has been charged with bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and three counts of money laundering.

Shahnaz allegedly obtained the funds by falsely representing herself and tricking banks into giving her a $22,500 loan and over a dozen credit cards. She lives in the town of Brentwood, N.Y., where she was working as a lab technician in a Manhattan hospital until June, when she quit her job.

Cryptocurrencies may be used "to avoid detection by law enforcement or intelligence services", prosecutors said. According to the New York Daily News, she was intercepted at JFK with $9,500 in cash on her person and a travel itinerary to Islamabad, Pakistan, with a layover in Turkey - a common flight plan for people attempting to enter Syria from Turkey to link up with ISIS forces.

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NBC News in NY quotes defense lawyer Steve Zissou claiming Shahnaz was "not helping ISIS, but was instead collecting money for humanitarian means". The FBI New York Joint Terrorism Task Force kept this woman from her unsafe and potentially deadly goal.

She then laundered and transferred the funds out of the country to support Isis, a designated terror group, the Department of Justice (DoJ) said Thursday.

"Some of that money came in the form of $63,000 in bitcoin and other crypto-currencies purchased with the credit cards", prosecutors added.

Shahnaz was held without bail.

If convicted, Shahnaz could face a maximum of 30 years for bank fraud and 20 years on each count of money laundering.

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