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NEW YORK: A suburban New York hospital technician accused of using bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to launder money meant for the militant Islamic State (IS) group was arrested on charges of money laundering in support of a foreign terrorist organisation and bank fraud, prosecutors said on Thursday.

Federal prosecutors in New York’s Suffolk County claimed in court papers that Zoobia Shahnaz, 27, used fraudulent credit cards and loans to accumulate $85,000, which she attempted to transfer to IS before attempting to go to Syria to join it.

Prosecutors said that after travelling to Jordan to work with the Syrian American Medical Society, Ms Shahnaz returned to the United States and applied for six credit cards, which she used to buy bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

The resident of the hamlet of Brentwood in Islip on Long Island appeared before a federal judge late on Thursday and was ordered to be detained, prosecutors said.

Her lawyer, Steve Zissou, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the case.

“After borrowing about $85,000 with fraudulently obtained credit cards and loans and withdrawing another $22,000 from bank accounts in her own name, Ms Shahnaz sent funds to recipients in Pakistan, China and Turkey,” prosecutors said.

“Some of that money came in the form of $63,000 in bitcoin and other crypto-currencies purchased with the credit cards,” prosecutors added.

Published in Dawn, December 16th, 2017

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