A New York woman has pleaded guilty to providing material support for ISIS, admitting to laundering stolen money to support the terrorist group, the Justice Department announced Monday.
The announcement said Zoobia Shahnaz falsely obtained a loan, fraudulently secured more than a dozen credit cards and purchased Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as part of her efforts to back the group.
“She then engaged in a pattern of financial activity, culminating in several wire transactions totaling over $150,000 to individuals and shell entities in Pakistan, China and Turkey that were fronts for ISIS,” the department said.
Shahnaz was indicted last year and stood accused of bank fraud, money laundering and support of ISIS, according to court documents.
At the time of her indictment, authorities said Shahnaz had tried to leave the US for Syria after “consummating the scheme” but ultimately was arrested
The Justice Department said in Monday’s announcement that she faces up to 20 years in prison following the guilty plea.
Steve Zissou, an attorney for Shahnaz, told CNN following the guilty plea that the case should serve as a warning for people to prioritize “the real threat” of radicalization over issues like a caravan of migrants headed for the US.
“The warning here is for people to stop paying attention to the caravan and to focus on the real threat … the growing number of American citizens who have been seduced by this imaginary caliphate in the Middle East,” Zissou said, adding, “The folks in Washington — the President has really got to get his eye on the ball.”
The announcement said that while she worked to provide material support for ISIS, Shahnaz viewed ISIS propaganda online and searched “for information that would facilitate her entry into Syria” before she was intercepted at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York last year.