A woman in New York has been jailed for 13 years for sending over $150,000 to ISIS, mainly in crypto. Zoobia Shahnaz from Long Island, NY, pled guilty to the crime of providing material support to terrorists in November 2018.
According to the Justice Department, the woman had sent more than $150,000 to groups and people in Pakistan, Turkey, and China, that had affiliations with ISIS. To raise the funds, she used stolen credit cards to purchase around $62,000 worth of BTC and other coins.
Authorities claim she planned to move to Syria and join ISIS. She had searched for information about the group online. At her home, the authorities found photos of a suicide belt as well as a night vision scope.
The female had previously worked as a lab technician in a hospital in Manhattan. She was arrested at the John F. Kennedy International Airport on July 31, 2017. At the time, she was boarding a flight to Turkey, which is a common entry point to Syria.
Terrorists and Crypto
Terrorists often use crypto to fund their activities. According to a report released by the Middle Eastern Media Research Institute, based in Washington DC, various terror groups such as Al-Qaida, ISIS, and the Muslim Brotherhood, were using the Telegram messaging up to raise funds in crypto. Besides that, they were using the app to coordinate their attacks.
In response to the growth in terror financing, regulators globally have ramped up the countermeasures to prevent terrorists from receiving funds using crypto to fund their terror activities. Recently, the Financial Action Taskforce, which is the global body tasked with setting standards for measures against money laundering and terror financing, called on the government to implement new policies. These policies will require that crypto firms share details about their customers when processing crypto transactions.
While there has been an increase in the use of crypto to fund terror, terrorists still prefer fiat. A report released in 2019 showed that most of the terror financing was in fiat since it is easier to manage compared to crypto.