Zoobia Shahnaz, a 27-year-old Long Island woman, was charged in federal court with money laundering this Thursday. She defrauded numerous financial institutions, obtained more than $85,000 through Bitcoin and transferred the money to support the Islamic State.
Acting US Attorney Bridget Rohde reported in New York that Shahnaz used different tactics to rob the banks. She illegally obtained 16 credit cards in June and July and used them to purchase $63,000 in Bitcoin and some other digital currencies. She also managed to present false documentation and receive a loan from a Manhattan bank in the amount of $22,500. Shahnaz’s intention was to send the laundered money to Pakistan, Turkey and China, and to put it in the hands of terrorists. Further on, she planned to fly to Syria to join ISIS.
The investigation revealed that during the time Shahnaz was committing bank fraud, she had accessed jihad related-websites. She also did online research on the locations of ISIS troops in Syria and she learned a lot about ISIS recruiters, supporters, and facilitators.
Zoobia Shahnaz, a US citizen with no criminal background, was arrested on Wednesday. She is charged with bank fraud and money laundering. If convicted, she will face 30 years of imprisonment. Steve Zissou, a lawyer for Shahnaz, said that she collected money to help Syrian refugees. According to prosecutors, Shahnaz obtained a Pakistani passport, quit her job as a lab technician and didn’t tell her family.
An FBI official told the news that Shahnaz’s goal was very dangerous and that they will do everything to stop every person with the same intentions.