New York hospital employee sent $60,000 in Bitcoins to ISIS before she tried to join them in Syria to kill AmericansBy Mason White 7:56 AM December 15, 2017
Employees of a Manhattan hospital are shocked to learn that their colleague funded the ISIS terror group and tried to join them to kill Americas, according to police in New York.
A five-count indictment was unsealed in federal court in Central Islip, charging 27-year-old Zoobia Shahnaz with bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and three substantive counts of money laundering.
As alleged in the indictment and court filings, Shahnaz defrauded numerous financial institutions and obtained over $85,000 in illicit proceeds, which she converted to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
She then laundered and transferred the funds out of the country to support the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (“ISIS”), which has been designated by the U.S. Secretary of State as a foreign terrorist organization.
After consummating the scheme, Shahnaz attempted to leave the United States and travel to Syria.
Shahnaz, a U.S. citizen, was arrested, and her initial arraignment was scheduled before United States Magistrate Judge A. Kathleen Tomlinson.
Tomlinson ordered Shahnaz held without bail for being an extreme danger to the community.
She was also deemed to be a flight risk.
Shahnaz engaged in a bank fraud scheme, purchased Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and laundered money overseas, intending to put thousands of dollars into the coffers of terrorists.
The court was told that Shahnaz obtained a loan for approximately $22,500 by way of materially false representations.
She also fraudulently applied for over a dozen credit cards, which she used to purchase approximately $62,000 in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies online.
She then engaged in a pattern of financial activity, culminating in several wire transactions, totaling over $150,000, to individuals and apparent shell entities in Pakistan, China, and Turkey.
These transactions were designed to avoid transaction reporting requirements, conceal the identity, source, and destination of the illicitly obtained monies, and, ultimately, benefit ISIS.
After conducting these financial transactions, the defendant sought to travel to Syria herself.
She was questioned by law enforcement at John F. Kennedy International Airport when she attempted to board a flight to Islamabad, Pakistan.
Her itinerary included a multi-day layover in Istanbul, Turkey, a common point of entry for individuals traveling from Western countries to join ISIS in Syria.
If convicted, Shahnaz faces a maximum of 30 years for the bank fraud charge and 20 years on each count money laundering.
Shahnaz recently quit her job as a lab assistant at a Manhattan hospital.
Shahnaz’s attorney denied all the allegations, saying that his client simply wanted to help Syrian refugees.