NY woman attempted to send bitcoin to Islamic State, feds say

NY woman attempted to send bitcoin to Islamic State, feds say

The Alfonse M. D' Amato District Court House, located at 100 Federal Plaza in Central Islip is seen on June 14, 2012.

A NY woman has been accused of laundering bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and wiring the money to help the so-called Islamic State, the BBC News reported on Friday.

Shahnaz, a USA citizen and onetime Manhattan hospital lab technician with no criminal past, was awaiting arraignment Thursday in federal Court on Long Island.

Zoobia Shahnaz, a 27-year-old Pakistani-born resident of Brentwood, was being held without bail following her Thursday arraignment on charges of bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering, prosecutors said.

They say that on July 31 she then tried to fly out of John F. Kennedy International Airport to Pakistan and Istanbul - a common point of entry for Westerners trying to reach ISIS in Syria.

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Cryptocurrencies may be used "to avoid detection by law enforcement or intelligence services", prosecutors said. 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.

During this period, prosecutors said Shahnaz accessed numerous Islamic State propaganda websites and message boards. Her family thought she was headed to work that day, but weeks earlier she had quit her job as a lab tech at a Manhattan hospital, where she was making about $71,000 a year, officials said.

"Syria is a perilous and violent war-torn country, but the subject in this investigation was allegedly so determined to assist ISIS that she planned a covert, illegal entry into Syria", said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney in a statement.

Though the indictment unsealed today makes no mention of the involvement of bitcoin directly, the office said in a press release that the funds she sent overseas - totaling more than $150,000 - were sourced in part from credit cards for which she fraudulently applied.

If convicted, she faces decades in prison.

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