Pakistani-American woman arrested for using bitcoin to fund ISIS
27-year-old Zoobia Shahnaz of New York has been arrested for allegedly laundering bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to transfer the money to aid ISIS. Prosecutors claim Shahnaz fraudulently took out loans worth $85,000 to buy the bitcoin online. Shahnaz faces over 20 years in prison if convicted for money laundering and bank fraud. Her lawyers claim she was sending money abroad to help Syrian refugees.
Shahnaz was arrested while trying to travel to Syria
Shahnaz, who was born in Pakistan, lives in Brentwood, Long Island, and worked as a lab technician at a hospital until June. In July, she allegedly procured a Pakistani passport and booked a flight to Pakistan via a layover in Turkey and planned on going to Syria, according to prosecutors. She was arrested with $9,500 in cash at New York's John F. Kennedy airport.
Shahnaz fraudulently acquired credit cards, loans to finance ISIS
Shahnaz had allegedly given fake financial information to banks to secure credit cards and a loan worth over $85,000. The then converted the money into bitcoin and tried transferring it to ISIS. Prosecutors said she conducted detailed internet research on joining ISIS at Syria, including "tips and reminders" for moving there. She also read articles on the "top female jihadis."
Lawyer claims she was trying to help Syrian refugees
Shahnaz's lawyer Steve Zissou has argued that she was sending the money abroad to aid Syrian refugees, not ISIS. "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."