The US Fed Court Sentence Citizen For Funding ISIS Using Bitcoin

Tarulika  |  Mar 14, 2020

The Federal Court of the United States has penalised a citizen from the US to 13 years of imprisonment for laundering money for funding ISIS via Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoins Used For Funding ISIS

On March 13, the Department of Justice announced that Zoobia Shahnaz of Long Island who was funding the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-sham through the cryptocurrency which amounts around $150,000, sentenced to 13-years of imprisonment.

Shahnaz intendedly circumvented a few of the major banks like American Express, Chase and Discover as per the original indictment filed on December 2017. The authorities of the United States claimed that Shahnaz deceived various financial institutions which include the loan amount of around $22,500 also. She gained the access of a dozen credit cards and utilised them to acquire approximately $62,000 in cryptocurrencies. She was involved in making multiple wire transfers to the various entities in Pakistan, China and Turkey to buy the crypto assets and ultimately funded ISIS.

Shanaz was arrested in 2017 when she was barred from boarding the flight in New York on her way to Syria with the layover in Istanbul. She was prevented by officials from boarding and later she was arrested. The legal counsel of Shehnaz explained that she was volunteering with the refugees of Syria through the Syrian American Medical Society. The defence strategy of counsel reduced the sentence of 110 years to 13 years as she explained how Shahnaz was driven by the motive to heal the patients victimised in Syria.

“Anonymity” Accelerates 

Terrorist Financing

Terrorist fundraising through bitcoin lies in the feature of “anonymity” which mask the identity of the person transacting on the blockchain. Jihadist organisers have utilised the crypto coins as a vehicle of financing for a long time. The bone of contention that bitcoin aids the terrorists has been the concern among law enforcement and government authorities across the world. Many restrictions have already made on digital currencies to regulate the usage and prevent terrorist financing along with money laundering for illicit purposes.

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